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.