There are ninjas popping up in Perth, in fact, all around us there are dojos set up to foster their growth and skills but these aren’t the dojos you’re thinking of.
CoderDojo is a network of coding clubs (Dojos) within Perth and Western Australia for young people aged 7 to 17 (Ninjas), who are interested in coding, computers, technology and digital creativity to hang out, work on their own projects and meet others who have similar interests.
With each independent Dojo run by volunteer community organisers, they are informal and grassroots, and will always be offered to ninjas free of charge.
Karen Wellington, the CoderDojo WA Program Manager, the free learning structure offered to young coding enthusiasts is a huge part of the program’s success. "What I love about CoderDojo is that it is an open source social education movement. This means that participants all around the world can contribute resources and also craft unique Dojo experiences for their Ninjas,” said Karen. “It's not a cookie cutter experience and so you'll see a tremendous amount of diversity between different Dojos".
All Dojos are part of an open source international movement called CoderDojo, founded in Ireland in 2011, which is now a global movement of free, volunteer-led, community based programming clubs for young people. With ninjas in WA working on a variety of personal technical and creative projects including, 3D animation, music, games, websites and graphic design, to Karen, the appeal of the dojos to young people is clear.
“In a Dojo club, young people aren't typically told exactly what to do. They have a chance to socialise, to explore, and even to feel bored!” observed Karen. “What tends to occur is that Ninjas are quickly motivated by the curiosity of those around them, and pretty soon they are engaged in projects of their own choosing. Young people who are not used to having that sense of freedom are able to develop self-direction and a real love of learning."
Within the CoderDojo movement there is a focus on community, peer learning, youth mentoring and self led learning, with an emphasis on showing how coding is a force for change in the world, partly inspired through the ‘Champions’; the Dojo organisers. Champions include principals, teachers, librarians, software developers, special needs professionals and students all working tirelessly to shape these new learning environments for young people. This hard work is for some mentors, conducted as part of their job, but for others it's completely done on a voluntary basis.
“I'm really impressed by the way the different Champions (Dojo organisers) have brought in the Dojo club concept into their own workplaces,” Karen said. “The initiative and passion of our WA Champions is what really stands out."
If you’re interested in checking out a dojo, or starting one or helping out visit CoderDojoWA for information on how to get involved.
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