‘Hello World’: Creating the next generation of coders

Adam Speight

Award-winning teacher Adam Speight is a Middle Leader in a secondary school in South Wales and also works as an FE lecturer specialising in ICT and Computer Science. Aside from Adam's teaching commitments he also runs his own education consultancy business - Mr Speight Consultancy and since qualifying as a teacher in 2011, he has worked in both Wales and England in the state and independent sectors in a variety of roles. He is always keen to share his ideas and is a frequent educational writer and speaker. Adam is always looking for new, innovative teaching ideas, so that no learner ever gets left behind.

Follow @Mr_Speight

Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

‘Hello World’ is perhaps the most famous computer phrase in the world, well, for programmers at least.

Traditionally the phrase ‘Hello World’ is used as a function by programmers to output the phrase to the computer screen. This phrase is used when testing systems and learning new programming languages for the first time. This phrase ‘Hello World’ is more apt than ever before in these uncertain times, especially if we link these times to the conundrum of how we get learners to continue learning how to program, without an educator in front of them. A simple solution which commonly springs to mind is to get learners to visit a coding website and follow some simple tutorials, and although this may initially work, there is a lot more involved if we want learners to become successful programmers and gain something worthwhile from the experience.


A successful programmer is someone who can ultimately apply computational thinking when writing and developing code. Computational thinking, in very simple terms, involves the process of breaking down problems into smaller problems to solve them. Some may argue that this process needs to be taught, but in fact it can be nurtured through conversations with the learner. For example, a good starting point with learners is to ask what they would like to program and create. Often learners will say I want to create “X, Y & Z”, which usually involves creating a social media platform bigger than Facebook or creating a supersized computer game! Although this ambition is to be admired, it is important that we encourage learners to be patient and realistic with what they would like to create.

Learners need to appreciate systems, such as social networking sites, are not created by one person. They are developed by teams of extensive staff, who may be dotted across the globe. Therefore, when we encourage learners to code, we should emulate this way of working by encouraging learners to work with their peers and create systems that further develop their coding ability and computational thinking. For example, if a learner wants to develop a mobile app, why not encourage them to work with a set of peers (in an online environment if social distancing is taking place) whereby one peer works on the back-end of the system in terms of the coding required, while another works on the functionality of the system, ensuring it is robust. A further person could then work on the front end of the system, focusing on how the graphical interface looks. This way of working will help learners to gain a better understanding of how the real-world works, whilst at the same time gaining the experience and benefits of working in a team.


Some learners may gain their initial programming skills without the presence of an educator and may have learnt this from online tools such as tutorials, moocs and videos. Although each of these sources have their merits, caution needs to be applied when learners are choosing which source, they would like to utilise. For example, when choosing one of these sources, learners need to consider if the content is up to date, for example is the programming language used the same one as the user has installed on their computer system, and is there support available if it's needed? Also, is the support environment moderated in terms of safeguarding?  Beyond that, we need to remember that whichever source of learning is chosen by the learner, the source should be just a starting point to help them engage and build up some initial confidence and knowledge. Once the learner has that, they should then be encouraged to use these skills and develop them elsewhere.


Developing these programming skills away from resources such as moocs, tutorials and online videos may seem a little odd to pose as an idea. However, if we want learners to really learn how to code successfully, we should apply the sandpit analogy to this situation. When a child goes into a sandpit for the first time they are informed of some basic rules. Similarly, with learning a programming language, learners are informed of how the language works in terms of the standard conventions they should follow, and the rules that exist. However, when a child is left alone in a sandpit, they explore for themselves, engaging in an activity of not just exploration but also of working out what they can build and develop. This analogy needs to be applied to how we encourage learners to program; learners need to be given space and encouragement to apply and develop their programming skills in a way which suits them (providing the programming activities they carry out are both ethical and legal). To do this, learners need to be nurtured and coached.

It is a misconception that nurturing and coaching a learner how to program, requires a person who knows more about programming than the learner. Yes, if you know more than the learner initially it can help, but you should not be afraid of the learner becoming the master. Therefore, the best way in which parents, carers and educators should help learners to develop their programming skills is to have conversations with learners about what they have done. To ask them in these conversations why they have made certain decisions, and most importantly pose constructive questions, asking them what they are going to do in order to address any limitations their creation may currently have. Within these conversations, expectations need to be kept realistic as learners need to be engaged with what they are doing, and they need to enjoy doing it. If learners do not enjoy learning how to code, how can we expect them to become a successful programmer?


We need to encourage as many learners as possible to try and learn how to code and become successful programmers. Just like with anything in life, some will be better at it than others, and that is ok. Learning how to code is not just about becoming a successful programmer, it is about developing a range of transferable skills, such as: self-motivation, discipline, exploration and most importantly resilience. Resilience is a key skill which learners need more than ever in this changing world, a skill which will help them embrace the new digital world they will soon face when this crisis is over and to which they confidently say ‘Hello World’.

Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support us.
When you register, you'll join a grassroots community where you can:
• Enjoy unlimited access to articles
• Get recommendations tailored to your interests
• Attend virtual events with our leading contributors
Register Now

Latest stories

  • How to handle stress while teaching in a foreign country
    How to handle stress while teaching in a foreign country

    Teaching English in a foreign country is likely to be one of the most demanding experiences you'll ever have. It entails relocating to a new country, relocating to a new home, and beginning a new career, all of which are stressful in and of themselves, but now you're doing it all at once. And you'll have to converse in a strange language you may not understand.

  • Is Learning Fun for You, Teacher?
    Is Learning Fun for You, Teacher?

    Over the weekend, my family of five went to an Orlando theme park, and I decided we should really enjoy ourselves by purchasing an Unlimited Quick Queue pass. It was so worth the money! We rode every ride in the park at least twice, but one ride required us to ride down a rapidly flowing river, which quenched us with water. It was incredible that my two-year-old was laughing as well. We rode the Infinity Falls ride four times in one day—BEST DAY EVER for FAMILY FUN in the Sun! The entire experience was epic, full of energizing emotions and, most importantly, lots of smiles. What made this ride so cool was that the whole family could experience it together, the motions were on point, and the water was the icing on the cake. It had been a while since I had that type of fun, and I will never forget it.

  • Free recycling-themed resources for KS1 and KS2
    Free recycling-themed resources for KS1 and KS2

    The Action Pack is back for the start of the brand new school year, just in time for Recycle Week 2021 on 20 - 26 September, to empower pupils to make the world a better and more sustainable place. The free recycling-themed resources are designed for KS1 and KS2 and cover the topics of Art, English, PSHE, Science and Maths and have been created to easily fit into day-to-day lesson planning.

  • Inspire your pupils with Emma Raducanu
    Inspire your pupils with Emma Raducanu

    Following the exceptional performance from British breakthrough star Emma Raducanu, who captured her first Grand Slam at the US Open recently, Emmamania is already inspiring pupils aged 4 - 11 to get more involved in tennis - and LTA Youth, the flagship
    programme from The LTA, the governing body of tennis in Britain, has teachers across the country covered.

  • 5 ways to boost your school's eSafety
    5 ways to boost your school's eSafety

    eSafety is a term that constantly comes up in school communities, and with good reason. Students across the world are engaging with technology in ways that have never been seen before. This article addresses 5 beginning tips to help you boost your school’s eSafety. 

  • Tackling inequality in EdTech
    Tackling inequality in EdTech

    We have all been devastated by this pandemic that has swept the world in a matter of weeks. Schools have rapidly had to change the way they operate and be available for key workers' children. The inequalities that have long existed in communities and schools are now being amplified by the virus.

  • EdTech review & The Curriculum Lab
    EdTech review & The Curriculum Lab

    The world is catching up with a truth that we’ve championed at Learning Ladders for the last 5 years - that children’s learning outcomes are greatly improved by teachers, parents and learners working in partnership. 

  • Reducing primary to secondary transition stress
    Reducing primary to secondary transition stress

    As school leaders grapple with the near impossible mission to start bringing more students into schools from 1st June, there are hundreds of thousands of Year 6 pupils thinking anxiously about their move to secondary school.

  • Generation Z and online tutoring: natural bedfellows?
    Generation Z and online tutoring: natural bedfellows?

    The K-12 online tutoring market is booming around the world, with recent research estimating it to grow by 12% per year over the next five years, a USD $60bn increase. By breaking down geographic barriers and moving beyond the limits of local teaching expertise, online tutoring platforms are an especially valuable tool for those looking to supplement their studies in the developing world, and students globally are increasingly signing up to online tuition early on in their secondary education schooling. 

  • Employable young people or human robots?
    Employable young people or human robots?

    STEM skills have been a major focus in education for over a decade and more young people are taking science, technology, engineering, and maths subjects at university than ever before, according to statistics published by UCAS. The downside of this is that the UK is now facing a soft skills crisis and the modern world will also require children to develop strong social skills as the workplaces are transformed by technology. 

In order to make our website better for you, we use cookies!

Some firefox users may experience missing content, to fix this, click the shield in the top left and "disable tracking protection"