Humans of CoderDojo WA – Robert Cheung
Robert Cheung, Mentor at UWA Dojo.
We speak to Robert about some of his favourite memories as a Mentor and why mentoring is a great way to “pay it forwards”.
What brought you to CoderDojo?
My employer, IBM, was contacted by the Fogarty Foundation for volunteers for CoderDojo. In particular, the Foundation were hoping for people with IT industry experience. Several of us at work decided to volunteer. For me personally, I enjoy teaching and coaching people. Furthermore, I had the fortune of experiencing computer programming from a young age through various education initiatives at the time, this was a good opportunity to “pay it forwards”.
What has been one of your favourite memories as a mentor?
My favourite memory as a Mentor at CoderDojo is around one particular Ninja. He was very good at going through the online exercise, but had difficulty understanding some of the more advanced ideas. After about 3 semesters, he finally and suddenly “got it”. It was extra gratifying because it was an exercise that I personally devised that provided the final springboard to get him over the line. Given that these concepts are generally taught at year 11/12 level, and this Ninja had only just started high school, it clearly shows that Ninjas are accumulating knowledge and skills through the weekly sessions.
What advice would you give to anyone thinking about mentoring at a Dojo?
The environment is very casual and non-exacting, which might be a very good change of pace for IT professionals. However, don’t mistake that for lack of “achievement”. The amount that the Ninjas learn are non-trivial, and the fact that they happily come back week after week shows they also enjoy it. If you focus on “how can you add value to this session”, you will find that is often all that is needed for things to flow smoothly.