Cracking the Code to Building Confidence
Cracking the Code to Building Confidence
Do you remember the last time you felt a renewed sense of confidence?
Did you read a new book, explore an emerging technology, or improve a technique? Maybe you simply discovered a creative solution to a frustrating problem.
If adults are energized by the confidence that comes with learning new things, how much more important is it to crack the code to build confidence in students?
At Codelicious, we believe that by exploring computer science projects that engage all learning styles to identify areas of interest and strength, elementary and middle school students increase their confidence, not only in their ability to learn computer science but also in themselves.
Of course, self-confidence isn’t simply gained by learning to code—from athletics to social skills, and afterschool programs to other studies, there are many ways to learn new things that develop confidence.
Confidence is something many adults struggle with unless they’ve spent a lifetime building upon that self-confidence. Sadly, it’s not something we all master in school.
As Marketing guru, Seth Godin shared in his e-book, “Stop Stealing Dreams,” traditional schooling is optimized more for becoming a great future employee than an independent thinker.
“When we let our kids dream, encourage them to contribute, and push them to do work that matters, we open doors for them that will lead to places that are difficult for us to imagine. When we turn school into more than just a finishing school for a factory job, we enable a new generation to achieve things that we were ill-prepared for.
Our job is obvious: we need to get out of the way, shine a light, and empower a new generation to teach itself and to go further and faster than any generation ever has. Either our economy gets cleaner, faster, and more fair, or it dies.”
Seth Godin, Founder of the altMBA
Blogger, Entrepreneur and Author
“One of the greatest things about computer science is the opportunity to create. That ah-ha moment - the boost students experience when they create something new and uniquely their own, can be extremely empowering.” says CSforALL chief evangelist Ruthe Farmer. “We are excited about the many new education tools that are enabling that ah-ha moment to happen earlier in a student’s journey with computing – equipping kids with the confidence to go beyond just using technology, to seeing themselves as a creator of technology and solutions.
While both of my parents encouraged me to explore new and creative skills from a very early age, my dad was more likely to encourage me to learn about compound interest, or the rule of 72, than to introduce me to a new creative medium.
Unbeknownst to me, my childhood lessons in compound interest and self-confidence were directly related.
There’s little in life that compounds as quickly as early boosts to self-confidence, each learning builds upon the next, not only boosting your self worth but also your willingness to try new things.
Fortunately for today’s youth, Codelicious isn’t the only organization passionate about building confidence through computer science. National nonprofit CSforALL is working to bring rigorous, inclusive, and sustainable computer science to all US youth and has assembled a national network of over 500 organizations working to make that vision a reality–like CoderDojo.
"When we founded CoderDojo we hoped that learning to create with code together would be empowering for young people. The results far exceeded expectations we have witnessed transformative experiences all over the world in kids as young as 7 in a remarkably diverse series of areas outside of the coding itself. Academic achievements, entrepreneurial achievements and just amazingly gutsy attitudes and hard work making real stuff often with nobler purposes, such as fighting climate change or benefitting local communities. "
Today we have a unique opportunity to help future generations to make “deposits” in their self-confidence accounts. As technology continues to evolve, it would be foolish to assume that a particular piece of hardware or software would still be relevant in 20 years, however, the benefits of exploring computer science, developing the mindset for debugging code, or the opportunity to experiment with photoshop, a drone, or robotics today, could each have a lasting impact on today’s elementary school students.
“If we are going to inspire our nation’s students to pursue opportunities in the most in-demand careers, we must empower them with confidence in math and science, and competence in transportable skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and growth mindset. This is intentional, and begins at a very early age.”
Confidence doesn’t only materialize in the classroom. Many student-athletes find the confidence to excel in the classroom, due to their newfound skills on the court.
“Sometimes the best way to spark that kind of confidence in younger student-athletes is for them to see what the older students can do, and how hard they work for it.”
“Research consistently shows that girls reap the biggest rewards when learning in all-girl environments, which helps them feel more comfortable and gives them a space where they can be themselves. This is where the LPGA-USGA Girls Golf is making a difference, by helping girls develop their skills on the golf course we empower them with confidence off the course to help them reach their goals.”
And many afterschool programs are essential to identifying what particular students need most.
If building confidence early on is so important, how can schools do a better job of creating opportunities for kids to develop self-confidence?
“Kids today are under a lot of pressure: pressure to be perfect, pressure from their peers, pressure at home. Many kiddos are experiencing trauma at home, and you don’t just get to check those fears and anxieties at the door. In order for kids to be successful academically, their other needs must be met, too. That includes their social and emotional needs. In order to engage true self-trust, vulnerability and confidence, we must hold space for addressing the needs of the whole child. We can do this by providing an environment that allows kids to bring their entire selves to a situation, give them the physical and mental supports to learning, and provide a venue for curiosity and exploration. I think this is where we can see more robust partnership collaboration between schools and partners.”
Campaigns such as Black Girls Code are essential to bolster the number of women of color in the STEM space, encouraging young African-American youth to be prepared to pursue future computing jobs in the United States.
“This year we’re specifically building confidence and bolstering the voices of our girls via our #FutureTechBoss Series. The central focus of this campaign is to allow our Tech Divas to share their stories from chapters all across the US. Allowing these future tech leaders to add their perspectives to the changing tech ecosystem is at the heart of the work we do to empower and motivate future generations of Black girls to code and do so much more!”
Today one of the things that give me the greatest boost in confidence is helping to teach others. As I help others solve difficult marketing challenges, I think back to the little deposits in my confidence account as a student. And I smile to think that I might be able to facilitate those in others, for generations to come.
How do you define self-confidence, and what do you see as our role in helping students to grow in it? I hope you’ll help us crack the code.
Codelicious Confidence Builders is a program providing students with experiences that give context for the technology all around them and highlights the value of confidence in achieving both personal and professional goals. Learn more about our past opportunities and apply for future events.
Josh Miles is the father of a 6th grade daughter, a 2nd grade son, and the CMO for Codelicious.