Viewing: Meet the Mentors – Meet John

Meet the Mentors – Meet John

After volunteering with CoderDojo Stirling and helping out with CoderDojo Glasgow events in the summer of 2014, John started Dojos in Castlemilk and Bridgeton to reach out to young people who sometimes lack opportunities to use digital technology creatively.


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What age did you start coding?

"I started when I was 12 when I got a ZX Spectrum computer for my Christmas. I was SO excited. It had a whopping 16KB of memory, a rubber keyboard (yes, really), and plugged into the TV. I tried to teach myself BASIC on it but it was a real struggle. There was no-one to help me, no internet to look stuff up on (the web hadn’t been invented!) and none of my pals were interested. Sad to say it but I gave up and didn’t do any more coding until I was 23. I wish CoderDojo had been around when I was 12!"

Why did you start coding?
"I wanted to build my own flight simulation game. It was slightly harder than I expected!"

What do you enjoy about being a CoderDojo mentor? 
"I love helping young people be inventive, be creative, and do things that they didn’t know were possible. I love the smiles of surprise and joy that comes from making things. Not all young people have technology at home to help them learn to code and I think it’s really important that all young people get the chance to try it. I also really enjoy working with the other mentors. The volunteers I work with are a great bunch and we have a really good laugh. It's also been brilliant to collaborate with other organisations like Thenue Housing Association, MadeBrave and BeYonder – it's amazing to work with others who are supporting young people in developing their skills (and having masses of fun at the same time!)"




Coding’s not creative, is it?
"What?! Yes it is! Coding is an amazing way of being expressive. You can use coding to make art, music, animation, clothing, loads of things!  Coding is a skill that’s increasingly being learned by people like artists, musicians and designers because it helps them realise their ideas."


What’s your favourite programming language (and why!)? 
"I really like Ruby because you can do a lot of stuff in just a few lines of code. It’s also easy to read (when it’s written well!) and easier to write than many languages. (One of the first languages I learned was C, which was really hard to learn!)"

What do you like about coding?
"I like solving problems, being creative and doing things that are challenging. Coding ticks all these boxes! I also love learning and, because technology is always changing, there are always new things to learn."


What’s the one tech you couldn’t live without?
"I love a note-taking app called Evernote. It’s brilliant. I use it many times every day. It’s really helpful and helps me stay (sort of!) organised."


What one tech do you wish you’d invented?
"The World Wide Web. It’s totally transformed our lives and has dramatically increased the amount of information we have access to and the way in which we communicate with each other."

If you're interested in volunteering to mentor at CoderDojo, great! Get in touch here.

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