Taming the inner pedagogue

Posted on Monday, March 14th, 2016 at 22:51

Why hello,  I didn’t see you reading there…

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It's not a cover, but a placeholder image

I’m trying to work on my children’s book,  ‘Cyberpixies‘,  where the idea is that through a ‘Kids mystery’ plot I introduce kids to basic computer programming concepts, heavily laden with metaphors to explain the computer concepts.

The idea for these metaphors came over a decade and a half ago when I was demonstrating computer skills to artists as part of a multimedia arts post-graduate course that I had taken myself the year before. So I know they are understandable to all sorts of people and can teach good quality computing (even though they may actually have no real idea why silicon wafers can make numbers change).

Plotwise, everything is going swimmingly, I have characters that feel pretty honest, tension, mysteries, and even a hint of magic in the form of the Cyberpixies themselves.

But explaining the inner-workings of computers, even in dynamic metaphors  that can flitter about the place, is still less enjoyable than the plot.

It feels secondary, rather than essential, which is odd as the plot was built to support these ‘training’  scenes.

I think the reason for this is that the Characters (particularly the main protagonist Max Carter) are far more worried about school and schoolwork than perhaps I’d like. They don’t want to take time out of working on their History project to learn a metaphor for programming, not when they’ve promised the straight-A student they got partnered with that they would try their hardest to actually get higher than a C (and it doesn’t hurt that that Straight-A student is female and the best friend of the girl Max has fancied since Year 7).

It’s a case of the Character’s emotions getting in the way of my plot, I guess, and the only way I can see of getting around it is for Max to concentrate on his History report for a Chapter (or two) get at least a ‘B’ and then he can  move on to the more important plot.

Well, except that the History report is about his family, or rather her report is about his family,  and his about hers. And that leads into the other major plot of the book, what exactly happened to Max’s mother and father,  and why no one will tell him about it? He needs to become a hacker just to find out how his Mum and Dad died.

So he has to learn those computer metaphors so that he can get his partner the information she needs to hand something in.

You see my problem…  and this is one paradox I’m not allowed to solve with time-travel.

Hopefully tomorrow I’ll make a breakthrough in the story that will get a few of these jammed plot-logs rolling and I’ll be able to get on with it all.

Posted from my Phone so…

2 responses to “Taming the inner pedagogue”

  1. Sounds like a brilliant idea to me (especially as the teachers in my daughter’s local school seem to have no idea about computers themselves…).

    Perhaps another story line could be – an introvert girl goes to school but a cretinous manipulative little crap-bag keeps pestering her to give her some or her lunch. The sweetest girl in the world doesn’t really know how to say no, and gives in every day to keep peace. Meanwhile, (let’s make this a sequel…) IT illiterate teacher does nothing as she’s on her own lunch break leaving an untrained (also computer illiterate) parent to hold the fort.

    The most adorably lovable sweetest introvert knows all about IT (and TT; time travel), thanks to reading a superb story about cyberpixies, and develops a computer virus to specifically target manipulative bullies. And useless teachers.

    Think it sounds realistic? …

    • CJ Moseley says:

      I think that sounds very um— specific… And sadly all too realist.

      Working as a School Governor (which takes up a surprising amount of time) has let me know that school teachers are usually shockingly untrained in IT, but expected to teach kids about it and Internet Safety (for which they are woefully unprepared). It certainly helped me focus the ideas for the book(s – I do plan more following). I think everyone could do with a little help with understanding how computers work… Although, even I am at a loss to target viruses on bullying crap-bags

 
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