The democratic parliamentary republic of Estonia is not a place one hears about very often. It’s a tiny state in the Baltic region of Northern Europe and though I’m just speculating here, Estonians probably enjoy their relative anonymity.
Which is why I was so intrigued to hear of Estonia popping up on the education technology radar today. The education-focused Tiger Leap Foundation has just launched a new pilot programm called ProgeTiiger (programming tiger) which aims to introduce Estonian children to computer programming as early as first grade.
In an interview with Ubuntu Life, Tiger Leap Foundation manager Ave Lauringson said “The interest of students towards using modern technologies has grown year after year. With the ‘ProgeTiiger’ program we create prerequisites for students to develop from consumers of software to developers of software.”
Training programs begin this month for primary school teachers in Estonia, and the program will supposedly include groups for middle school and high school kids later in the year.
I loved how Greg Anderson over at ArcticStartup put it:
Maybe I’m just brainwashed by the startup world, but the program seems like a logical addition to the math and science classes already offered in every school. It’s hard to go a waking hour without staring at a screen these days, so it’s important to breed a new generation that understand the mechanics of building their own web and mobile applications so they can build their own solutions to problems.
If this works in Estonia, certainly we can bring this to American schools as well, right? Right now, we’ve got a number of private alternatives to coding and programming higher education courses like Treehouse, Code Avengers, Codecademy, and Khan Academy. But when will we include this in STEM education initiatives in public schools?