Teaching Digital Education to 10-14 year olds

From end of February 2022 to end of June 2022 I taught digital education to 10-14 year olds at the Free Montessory School in Altach, Vorarlberg. The experience was profound, very rewarding - as it is always when working with kids - and added a new kind of experience and dimension to my teaching skills and portfolio.

First and foremost it was not an intellectual challenge but a pedagogical one. I had many ideas what I want to teach the kids but as I was going along I saw what is working and what is not. Most importantly (and also obviously) it is not really possible to give a lengthy powerpoint presentation about some topic, especially not to the youngest ones - they simply can’t and won’t follow, as they are not used to this kind of learning, particularly not in this kind of School. So I had to shift my teaching towards a hands-on approach, where the pupils either had specifics tasks they had to solve and explore or I was leading them step-by-step through a task.

I covered quite a wide range of topics: cybermobbing, deep fakes, gaming, computer hardware internals (I brought in old computer hardware the pupils could inspect and play around with - they all went wild and very much loved it), history of the Internet, HTML basics, Powerpoint basics, Excel basics, Scratch programming. I was covering most topics with all classes but presented and approached them different, depending on their age. This also gave me an interesting insight how different each year reacts to which topic and it was tremendously interesting to see how different each class was and how much difference a single year makes in the age of 10-14.

In some way I was expecting intellectually much more from the pupils in the form of enthusiasm for every single topic I presented but this didn’t happen in all cases and many of the pupils were quite passive. I attribute this partly to themselves and partly to me, failing to prepare the teaching material in the appropriate way, expecting too much from them and probably most importantly I think I was not consequential enough and did not put up clear rules on how to behave / not to behave. Kids immediately feel that and constantly test boundaries and I was too soft and did not always enforce them, so the kids started slipping.

Concluding I can say that I completely underestimated the pedagogical difficulty and challenge - I think I now got an idea how important it is for teachers to go through a proper pedagogical education. This is also one of the reasons why I am not continuing this teaching activity: I would want to do the best possible job and for that I would need to invest heavily in my pedagogical skills in the form of additional courses at a pedagogical uni and spend much more time in developing my teaching material - neither of which I have time because of my decision to go back into a industry job which needs all my attention.