Breakout Mentors doesn’t work with adult students. Part of the reason is so that we can give our full attention to being the best at teaching kids to program. Also, motivated adults are able to use some of the many resources available to learn how to program. There are entire university courses online complete with lecture videos, a book, and assignments to do. Yet, how many adults that say they “wish they knew how to program” or “want to learn how to program” actually accomplish their goal?
Unrealistic Expectations for Adults
The main reason is adults have expected results on an unrealistic time horizon that sabotage them from ever getting there. They want to learn how to program to get rich off making the next Angry Birds (or get one of the many high paying programming jobs), and want to get started on it right away. They don’t see the years of effort and spare time tinkering that go into making a game of that caliber.
For an adult, a fun project that is one small step toward the goal is viewed as a waste of time if it is ultimately thrown away. It’s not about the journey for them, it’s all about the destination. Whereas getting lost in a challenging problem is viewed as fun for a kid and if you can keep this interest for many years, real progress is made and results achieved.
The Breakout Mentors Message
This is the same premise that underlies how we promote and communicate our sessions. We don’t sell based on results like “after 8 sessions your student will have created a multi-player game and created a website” like many others do. First, we take advantage of the flexibility 1-on-1 sessions provide to move at each student’s own pace. If a student is slow to learn a concept, we can spend more time on it. If they want to spend time polishing their game to look great, terrific. If they want to add more advanced features to make it more fun, great. No need to prematurely shove them onto the next project – that can only decrease their long-term interest and hurt the long-term goals.
Selling the results to parents also makes it easy to lose sight of what is important – the student learning and having fun! This can be seen by many summer camps choosing programming platforms that can quickly create terrific looking games, but aren’t the best way to learn programming concepts and cost several hundred dollars for the student to use it at home. What’s more important – selling dozens of parents on the impressive results that will be achieved if their kid attends the camp OR setting them on a path of real and prolonged learning?
Goals and Return on Investment
Goals are important, but unrealistic timelines are not. We are more than happy to work towards specific results the parent and student are interested in (for example a large project to write about on private school applications). Turning the student’s ideas into a reality is extremely important. But there may be many steps necessary to get there and non-technical parents can underestimate just how much there is to learn.
If a result isn’t promised on a given time horizon, what is the return on investment for a parent to invest in Breakout Mentors sessions? Less measurable goals are worthwhile (see the debate on standardized testing) – problem solving, deconstructing complex problems into manageable pieces, logical thinking skills, long-term interest in the subject, and empowering students to tackle large challenges. And results will come – impressive projects, private school applications, CS AP tests, high school internships, college admission, technical jobs, the possibilities are endless.
Results are comforting, but so is our money back guarantee. If after your first session you don’t feel your student is on a path to success, you get your money back. If you don’t feel your mentor is the right fit for your student, the next session with a new mentor is on us. If you’re interested in discussing if now is the right time for your student to get started, let us know.