Computational thinking is a life skill. Here’s why…

Running is a great way to keep fit – lots of fresh air and things to look at. And it’s free – you should try it. Try Park Run.

But I hate running. I really do – it’s a difficult sport to take up in your fifties! However, I realised today that computational thinking skills are what has enabled me to get my running up to 15k/week. And maybe I hate it less. Maybe I’ll love it one day. I’ll let you know. Thinking about computational skills in terms of my running has really helped me to understand what they all mean and has made them more applicable.

Can you think of non-computing areas of your life where you have used computational thinking skills to improve on something, or to solve a problem? Please comment below – tell us which skills you have used, which problem you have overcome, and why you think these skills helped you. Here’s my experience:

Decomposition – I break my run into chunks. There are difficult bits (uphills) and easy bits (downhills). I give myself permission to stop at various points if I’m tired. But I generally don’t. As I get through each chunk I give myself a pat on the back and carry on. Chunking it up gives me the motivation both to get started and to carry on til it’s finished.

Logical reasoning – I predict what I need to wear (kit, hat, gloves – weather dependent) & I work out my route in advance to decide which music I will need and how long the run will take me.

Resilience – sometimes the weather’s bad, or I’m tired. But I keep on going, knowing that the end result will be worth the cold, or the pain.

Perseverance – I’m still doing it, aren’t I?! And I have built up my runs gradually from a much smaller distance

Creativity 😉 – If I walk uphill, I change my music track to a marching sort of song, to ensure that I walk at a good pace. (My favourite – “Men of Harlech” ). If I’m really tired I swap to interval training.  I tinker with my schedule depending on my mood and level of ambition!

Patterns – I group similar bits of the walk together eg flats, uphills, downhills, and change my rhythm, music & approach appropriate to each type of section.

Evaluating & Debugging – Throughout my run I am evaluating my technique and relative fitness and changing things about my run accordingly, to help me improve.

Generalisation – Whenever I change my running route (I rarely do, I’m a performing monkey), I use techniques that I learned from previous runs and apply them to my new route eg Oh, this hill is a bit like the one in South Rd, so I’ll take the first bit slow, speed up the next section etc. But, on reflection, I think generalisation is a bit bigger than this. The knowledge that I have successfully completed a previous run spurs me on and gives me the confidence and the reassurance that, with perseverance, I can surely complete this one too. The memory of a task previously accomplished gives me the resilience I need to push myself further. I don’t know what name to give to this skill, maybe reinforcement – someone cleverer than me can name it. It also highlights that Computational Thinking is a circular process, and long term, as well as cross curricular.

Here’s a reminder of computational thinking skills from the lovely people at Barefoot Computing – you will recognise it from our display!


You may notice that these skills are all part of growing our mindsets. Of pushing ourselves into areas we find difficult or uncomfortable, and constantly challenging ourselves to improve. We are talking about this a lot in school at the moment and our next theme is Curiosity.



21 thoughts on “Computational thinking is a life skill. Here’s why…

  1. For me it’s getting dressed in the morning by asking myself questions like:
    Is it cold or hot?
    Is it school or not?
    Is this dirty?


  2. I have used logical thinking to decide where planes are going. It was quite high up, but I knew that Heathrow was west of where I was (And London) so I thought that if it was heading west, which it wasn’t it would be headed for Heathrow, but it was headed south-east- Gatwick. So then I knew where it was going. I onve had to persevere when I was playing cricket and someone swung their bat with FULL POWER to… (pause for dramatic effect) my head! I have got a bump now, but even though it was painful, I persevered.


    • Ow Shahzeb, your poor head! Well done for persevering though.


  3. Finally! A chance to moan about tests in front of code club! In year 6 we have test after test after test. You need a strategy to get good marks, using logical reasoning you can plan your route. You might come across a page with a difficult question for one mark and a difficult question for two marks. You go for the one with two marks and then later come back to the one mark one if you have time. Logical Thinking.


    • Excellent Kip! Can you also think about how you use decomposition and patterns in those pesky tests?


  4. I have used computational way to solve something.
    When I was playing football I was on on one with the keeper I was going to just smash it.
    But the keeper was slightly to the left so I shot to the right and scored!


    • Which of the computational thinking skills do you think you used in this situation, Nathan? It may have been more than one of them!


  5. I think running is a great way to keep fit. Though technology is fun! I like running and have done it many times but i can also sprint as well as do long distance running ¦¬)


    • Well done Ollie, I am very envious of your abilities! Can you think hard (& deeply – you’re good at that) about which of the computational thinking skills have you used at various times in your running, and how they may have helped you?


  6. I would use logical reasoning when it snows because when i throw a snowball I use gloves or my hand gets cold.


    • You would be good at it Priya.
      Now, as I said to Shahzeb too, are you able to look at the original blog post about running, and answer the question in good detail? Clue – it’s the sentence with a question mark at the end.


  7. Brilliant approach! But there’s nothing to hate (cold, wet, sore joints, the list goes on!!).
    I wish I’d thought of these earlier!


    • No, it is when you are “advertising” or “marketing” a person or product – you say lots of lovely things to make them feel good about themselves or sound good to others!
      Now, are you able to look at the original blog post about running, and answer the question in good detail? Clue – it’s the sentence with a question mark at the end.


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