Looking to get digital with Les Labs? Here’s someone you should know – check out our Q&A series with a valued member of the Labs community and see why our amazing instructors, students, and team members choose to #learnwithlabs.
SF: First off, wishing you a huge welcome to the Labs Q&A series! First time here? Introduce yourself please!
AS: Hi everyone. I’m Ash, proud instructor at Les Labs. I help children and young adults understand, engage with and utilize the fundamentals of computer science, technology, and programming. I am a second-year Computer Science student at McGill University, and I also teach at Lower Canada College (LCC) part-time.
SF: Sounds like you have a busy daytime schedule with school + other projects. So what drove you to teaching?
AS: I strongly believe giving tools, through education, is a foundation for innovation. Seeing what children can do with simple apps on their phones, you would be amazed! I think teaching is fulfilling for me mainly because of the growth you see in those who learn, especially being in a classroom with smiles around me. Furthermore, as a student myself, I benefit from the direct impact of teachers in my life.
SF: “Digital Literacy” could have a number of different implication . What does it mean for you?
AS: These words refer to an understanding of the entire digital world, which includes smartphones, tablets, computers, etc. Although there is a great set of technical skills attributed to such understanding, we cannot forget important social or economic aspects of the word. It is important to consider the appropriate use of technology: digital citizenship. Digital literacy refers to the entire societal implications of being a user or developer.
SF: In your opinion, how do you think a foundation in programming and computer science truly helps kids? Aside from the tech, does it teach them anything else?
AS: Learning how to code is not only the best skill to acquire right now, it also drives one to think critically and solve problems. I think anyone can learn programming, but not everyone can use it in a way that is efficient. Computer science is limitless when it comes to innovation.
SF: Do you think it’s really true that kids have a “natural” ability with technology, or is it something that still needs to be taught?
AS: Kids are extremely curious, which allows them to explore and play around with technology successfully. The hands-on approach works far better! Their imagination has no bound. They are naturally inclined to learn fast and have incredible natural problem-solving skills. Their nature is what allows them to excel when they are given some tools. I do not think they need to be “taught” how to apply their knowledge. They simply need to be given the tools. This means guiding the initial stages on the use of the tools they have to create amazing things.
“Children simply need to be given the tools. This means guiding the initial stages on the use of the tools they have to create amazing things.”
SF: Very cool. What attracted you to programming and computer science in the first place?
AS: Personally, I did not discover computer science until university. I really just love the aspect of being able to do anything, literally, when you code. There are endless applications to computer science. Essentially, the reason I enjoy computer science is because I find it challenging and addictive. Computer science will find every person a different way of being engaged.
SF: You also teach with Kids Code Jeunesse – you’re always around kids! What would you love to see come out of the next generation as they continue to engage with programming?
AS: We have already achieved so much! Of course, we will only continue to move forward. However, I feel that there are more challenges that arise as the world continues to grow. These global issues are political, economic, social, etc. I hope they continue to innovate in order to tackle these issues.
SF: You also study full-time at McGill University. Assuming you don’t have thousands of hours to spare, why did you choose to also teach at Les Labs?
AS: Les Labs has a great philosophy, aiming to connect anyone with future technology. I think learning how to program is a skill that should be taught at a younger age. It is the present, and will continue to be the future. ANYONE can learn how to code and use it for their benefit. Les Labs bridges the world of technology for those who have not yet fallen into it. Do not wait to get started!
SF: Got any words of wisdom to share with any parents looking to have their children engage with technology?
AS: I really wish I learned how to code when I was younger and I cannot wait to see computer science as a class taught in all schools. Do not miss the opportunity of involving your kids in the world of tech. They will have fun and grow tremendously. They also tend to be very quiet and sit down while in deep thought, thinking about their projects… A few parents told me it was magical.