CodeGrades has been three years in the making. Many people have been instrumental in getting it to its current state. We'd like to acknowledge their help and support, and thank them for engaging so collaboratively with this crazy experiment in coding education.
Thanks to Kana, Yi, Karima, Jess, Alex, Paulo and Mike, who took a leap of faith to become the first ever candidates for CodeGrades at the end of 2018. We learned such a lot from those uncertain exploritory steps. The candidate's can-do attitude, enthusiasm and bravery (!) in preparing for a face-to-face assessment gave us wind in our sails. We especially appreciated their unanimously positive feedback. Clearly, we were onto something.
Thanks to our dear friends Francis Irving and Tim Golden who, between them, were the first two CodeGrades mentors.
It was Francis who helped find a space to hold the original meetings. He helped to mentor, guide and support our first candidates with a wise, humble and friendly attitude that was inspiring to watch. The positive experience of our first candidates owes a great deal to Francis's presence and contributions.
Tim played the role of the first assessor and did so with a quiet confidence, gentleness and appropriate sense of formality. When the candidates went in to be assessed, they looked like they were visiting the dentist for root canal work. When the candidates came out they were so complimentary about how charming and supportive Tim had been.
Both Francis and Tim are formidably talented software engineers, and it was a great honour to have them along for the ride. When you read about the mentor's role, we're thinking of them and how they first embodied what it is to be a mentor.
Thank you to Grace and all the other parents who allowed us the privilege of working with their young folk at London's Young Coders Meetup at the end of 2019 and in early 2020.
These inspiring young people, from under-represented groups in tech, are truly autonomous and diverse learners. Their sense of confidence, empowerment and curiosity along with their well refined moral compasses gives us hope for the future. They are a credit to themselves and their parents. It was such a shame that COVID got in the way of our face-to-face sessions, but from such adversity comes the website you see here today.
It would be remiss of me not to thank YCM's regular coding mentor Neill Bogie who also threw himself into our sessions and showed us all how to embody a coder who teaches with care, attention and passion. He's yet another source of our vision of what a mentor could be. Thank you Neill.
I can't begin to describe how important and nourishing our friendly interactions with Hong Kong based Conrad Ho, and Ghana based Mannie Young and Michael Young have been.
For the past year we have been meeting online for monthly video calls about Python in education. It was their encouragement, feedback and desire to use CodeGrades for their own educational projects that directly led to the creation of this website when our society ground to a pandemic-related halt.
Their work as community organisers, teachers and engineers embodies the very best of our global Python community. After every call we come away humbled by their ideas, creativity and contributions. It has been a huge honour and privilege to share this journey with them (and long may it last, we're only just beginning).
Many wonderful people in the coding community have made large and small differences to CodeGrades, often without realising.
In no particular order, we want to recognise and thank the following people for their help and support:
- Friends in the Mu editor core developer team provide an easy answer to the question beginners always ask, "but how do I start?". For all sorts of complicated reasons, this is no easy task. Thank you Carlos, Vasco, Tiago and Tim.
- Steve Hawkes has simply been magnificent in his support and hugely patient in his design interventions. He's also called our bluff more times than we care to remember, and for that we'll be forever grateful.
- Kelly and Sean at the Teaching Python Podcast continue to amaze and inspire us with their pedagogical prowess, thoughtful educational reflections and insights into the minds of expert teachers. We were thinking of them when we wrote our documentation for educators.
- Python friends, Anna, Kushal, Brett, Carol, Naomi, Dave, Russ, and Ben have all (both deliberately and unwittingly) given us a boost when we needed it.
- Monthly virtual catch-ups with Damien George and our shared love of home-made tofu have been an important and nourishing source of energy during lock-down. Damien's careful, conscientious and virtuosic steering of the challenges involved in MicroPython is a master-class in cat-herding a sustainable long term technical project.
- David Whale is a kindred spirit, talented educator and exceptional engineer. His enthusiastic response to an early explanation of CodeGrades came at an important moment and ensured we took the next steps despite our self-doubts and hesitation.
- Les Pounder has, on many occasions, demonstrated his generosity of spirit by sharing his technical skills and talents with others. These often take the form of fun projects described on his blog. Les's imaginative projects, as vehicles for learning, were a direct inspiration for our project based approach.
- Dawn Hewitson, is that rarest of educators: a teacher of teachers. We, like many of her students now working as computer science teachers, have benefitted from her kindness, open heartedness and considerable pedagogical experience. She is another who embodies the role of the mentor with great skill and authority.
- It has been an absolute joy to share coding with author and broadcaster Andrew Smith. His humanity, humour and beginner's eyes allow us to see the world of software engineering from a unique and hugely valuable perspective: that of a fearless learner, who shares their experiences with such aplomb.
- Friends at Adafruit lead the way and inspire us all through their efforts to encourage, grow and invest in a welcoming and flourishing open source community. Several members of their CircuitPython team have also offered counsel, help and support at important moments in CodeGrades' development.
- We have known Professor Nick Radcliffe for many years, as a collaborator, coder and musical connoisseur. Nick gave us an opportunity to express an early vision of CodeGrades to a technical audience of data scientists and software engineers. Their many questions and positive response, just as we entered lock-down, gave us valuable food for thought.
- Friends at Tufts University's Center for Engineering Education and Outreach have been another source of energy, enthusiasm and ideas. A crucial conversation about online certification when last in (pre-pandemic) Boston was the source of much impetus. Their practice as thoughtful educators of tomorrow's engineers, revealed through their research, programmes and publications is a joy to behold. Finally, they're evidence of how it's important to welcome conversations with random professors at conferences (nice one Chris).
Creating CodeGrades has been a process of catharsis for me (Nicholas) after a distressing series of events in the Python community led me to step away with a burden of pain and sadness.
Creating this project has been a difficult journey, but ultimately one of healing and growth. It has enlarged my world as I learned to express how (a small aspect of) coding education could be. Much of my own musical education and experience as a music educator is reflected in this project ~ so I want to acknowledge my debt to the many musicians, composers and teaching colleagues from whom it was a privilege to learn. It remains to be seen if anything comes of CodeGrades, but in a sense it is already a success at a very personal level.
I choose compassion over control, imagination over ignorance and openness over the "in crowd". Tolerance, friendship and mutual support are what I hope for the candidates and mentors on their own journey to experience through CodeGrades.
Thank you to the various people (you know who you are) who were my true friends, who listened, who engaged and who supported me when I was most in need. To paraphrase a philosopher, your attention was the rarest and purest form of generosity.