The Value of Tackling Impossible Projects

Tamasin Ford -- 18 May 2015

We often have kids point to a video game that they like to play and say “I want to make that”. As an adult, our first instinct may be to temper their expectations so they can be successful, by telling them that the game is too complicated or difficult and encouraging them to try something smaller. But after researching this topic and observing kids in the classroom, we have come to another perspective.

YES! Let’s do the impossible project that you aren’t ready for!

It sounds crazy at first, but there are actually good reasons to do this. Here are just a few:

Motivation drives greater learning

Kids (and adults) will show greater active mental engagement with topics they care about, including asking more questions and actively trying to figure things out. They will also exhibit greater persistence.

Kids are always doing things they aren’t ready for - it’s how they grow

We are trying to protect them from failure, but they aren’t afraid of it and we shouldn’t be either. If they don’t take risks and big steps, they won’t reach their potential in any challenge they try.

Learning is a process, not an outcome

Finishing the project is nice, but all the growth and learning comes along the way. That means that a project which doesn’t reach its planned outcome can still be a tremendous success when measured by educational growth. Plus, every project changes as it proceeds and kids are very good at deciding when they think something is done. Coding projects can easily become large and complex, but when we get a child who is inspired and wants to tackle a impossible project, we welcome it. The outcome game may not look like the inspiration game, but the young programmer will be just as proud of it, and have learned a lot from making it!

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