Each day we use computers in multiple formats for work, school and recreation. Computer Studies at Dulwich takes our students behind the interface to learn how these marvellous pieces of engineering work. In the senior school, we study the “why and how” of different technologies that our society uses. A computer scientist can create code, write programs, create problem-solving algorithms and figure out what a computer system can and can’t do. Computer science comes in three knowledge levels: coders, programmers and computer scientists.
U.C. Berkeley grad, Silicon Valley engineer and Dulwich Computer Science teacher extraordinaire, Mr. Tom Lee leads the Computer Science curriculum here at the College and shares with us here a spotlight on the curriculum he is currently teaching:
Year 6 students are learning to focus on essential computing skills and logical thinking. Our students are enjoying this because they know they are becoming more efficient with a computer. Students are certainly finding their lessons challenging though because logical thinking is rarely taught in curriculum time to students their age.
Year 7 students are focusing on Scratch programming and automation. Students are enjoying this because they are making fun games that they can share with their friends and family. They have been given a lot of creative freedom in their projects to explore endless opportunities.
Year 8 students are currently focusing on website production with HTML and CSS. Students are enjoying this because they have been challenged by a long term (3 month) project where they must create an entire website. In addition to learning the markup languages, they must take ownership of their projects, allocate time and resources and manage any obstacles that they encounter. Welcome to the business world, Year 8.
Year 9 students are currently focusing on coding and algorithms. Students are enjoying this because they are learning to create simple or complex programmes, depending on the rate of their progress. They will also have the opportunity to participate in real-world projects that we will implement on campus.
Year 10 students are currently focusing on advanced algorithms and the IGCSE computer science material. Students are enjoying this because I offer, expect and require them to show up to my lunchtime and afternoon class sessions, which increases the contact time to five lessons per week. We are taking a deep-dive into coding, to be able to start and complete projects of their own choosing at the end of this course.
Computer Science is very popular at Dulwich and we asked Tom to share some insights into his classroom and teaching practices…
Tell us about your teaching style in class?
I definitely prefer that the students spend less time watching and listening to me and more time coding or working on their tasks or projects. Hands on and practical application. I am there to guide them - but it is as much teaching, as it is motivation.
What is your favourite aspect of teaching?
My favourite aspect of teaching is helping students to succeed, whether it is getting into the university of their choice, doing well on external exams, completing a real-world project, or just understanding a challenging new concept. This is the reason I chose teaching over other careers.
What is the most important thing for students to remember in your classroom?
The most important thing to remember in my classroom is that it costs nothing to try and that we only gain from failure. All great people in business or politics have failed at some point. However, if you don’t even try, there is no chance at greatness.
How do you hope to make a difference?
I want my students to be the best computer scientists in the world, and the only way I know how to get there is by working hard. That’s why I meet my Year 10 students five times a week. I will not let them down by doing just the minimum.
Getting better never stops. What are you looking forward to learning more about?
I love learning more maths so that I can teach even higher-level coding. However, the most important to learn about are my students because I think a great teacher-student relationship is an absolute necessity.
Shanghai is an amazing city with everything to offer an expat. However, the simple reason for me is that this is where I met my wife.
Share a quote that resonates with you, and why?
“Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.” – John Wooden.
I like this because it keeps everything simple.