Cypher is a coding school teaching children in both a fun and engaging way how to use technology and build platforms on it. They have a variety of subjects that allow both genders of children to pick topics that interest them, as they are keen to promote coding to all.
It is this child-led learning approach that is having great traction in not only appealing to the children but engaging them with technology and giving them valuable skills for the future. Learning to code is much like learning a language, and a language and skill that they will take with them into adulthood and their working life no doubt.
Elizabeth Tweedale is a mother of three and very much a working woman and founder of Cypher. She has held prestigious positions in tech companies and was also an architect at Foster + Partners. Although, often she has been one of only a handful of women in the room because as we know the tech world has previously never attracted as many women as it should have. Clearly building and creating a world or a vision, is something that she enjoys and is passionate about as is emphasising that coding and tech is not just geeky and boyish, but can appeal to all genders.
Keen to especially give girls a way into a typically ‘masculine’ genre, she wants to open the door to allow children to both grow in their knowledge of coding and from their interactions with each other. Tweedale uses an example of a set of boys and a set of girls doing the same exercise to create a game where a monster eats rocks. The boys finished the task incredibly quickly and were on point with what was asked, the girls, however, took their time, but also created a more 360-degree world, one in which the monster grows in size when he eats the rocks.
Here the girls showed they can take the idea and run with it to the next level, whereas the boys are much more targeted to being accurate about what has been asked of them. It becomes clear that if you could match speed with creativity you would be on to a winner, and thus indicating that both genders can learn from each other. Even if all they are learning is that there are more ways than one to complete a task.
In fact, having a wide skill set is obviously advantageous in later life. Problem-solving is not usually black and white so thinking outside the box is always a good thing. As a teacher myself, I always enjoyed child-led and peer learning. I think a great many social skills are taught in classrooms and we all know that children with rules to follow and expectations of behaviour always feel safer and calmer. The great thing about coding is that it can also be taught virtually.
Thankfully ahead of the curve Cypher had actually already begun to move to a virtual classroom just before COVID-19 hit and I am sure a lot of parents were happy to know that their children would have something amazing and academic to do during lockdown. Even now, Cypher will run safe courses in person, but the digital offering will always be there.
This really helps with their expansion plans, as we know now more than ever digital classrooms are not concerned with location, really only with time zones! Cypher has started to expand into Eastern America and will move into America fully in the coming years.
As well as providing skills training to those children who can afford to join, Cypher is also keen to work in partnerships with schools and local authorities and is working out the best way to do this. However, this can be a tricky road to navigate so if you are someone who thinks they might be able to offer knowledge and help then let them know! At present the coding taught in schools is limited and it would be fantastic to appeal to a wider audience of students.
For those parents worried about screen time, please do remember as Tweedale says that there are really four types of screen time, tv watching, playing games, Facetiming relatives and then building and coding games. Whilst many parents are keen to limit the first few it is imperative that those children wanting to build and learn to code be allowed to do so.
Remember this is a skill they are learning, much like a language, that will most likely be the norm in their adult life world. Interacting with others is always key for growing social skills, even if this is online for the moment, it is still an important part of learning. And for any parents worried that they don’t quite understand coding or how to help their children, don’t worry Cypher will talk you through it all and in no time at all so will your own kids!
For all those parents keen to enrol their children or learn more about Cypher please check them out here.