Recently my school announced they’re going to be getting a new Computer Science department where they will teach actual coding and CompSci qualifications. This is brilliant because very few schools that I know of even touch on things like this, and in our modern world it’s an increasingly advantageous skill to have.

Although I’m 17 now and so technically a child of the computer age I was fairly late to the game myself. I think I played catchup quite well, but we didn’t get a home computer until I was 9 or 10 and then didn’t get one with internet access until five years ago. While this might all sound very ‘First World Problems’y (and it probably is) it has meant that I’ve not been on the scene all too long.

My first real taste of computer science came when I was 12 and had just started secondary school. A teacher called Mr Hancock introduced me and a friend to the subject and even stayed back after school to give us extra lessons on the basic theory. This could have (and probably should have) blossomed into something brilliant, but at the end of the year he left to take a head of IT position at a better school. A lot of our teachers did that. Nobody took his place and we went on knowing very little about computer science.

As far as I know the story ends here for my friend, but for me it gets a little more interesting.

When I was 15 I fell in with a new crowd of very awesome people, the same awesome people I still have the privilege of calling my friends today. One of them particular, pretty much the lone guy of the group, is very nerdy and a bit of a role model for me (he’s the brilliant clarinet/organ guy from a few blogs ago). He’s shaped a lot of my interests and I’d definitely have a lot less involvement in the technological world if it wasn’t for him.

But anyway, this guy introduced me to a code breaking competition called the National Cipher Challenge which takers place in the UK and suggested that I learn the Python programming language to help me with it. I did both and loved it.

Fast forward two years later to now. I run only Linux on all three of my computers and spend copious amounts of free time coding. I also currently have several programs out in the public domain including a web-browser and calculator for Ubuntu based distributions and a Tweeting Client for Windows.

I can’t help but feel it would have been a lot easier if this had been taught in a classroom and will always wonder how much further along I’d be if I’d had that bit of an extra start. Fingers crossed for the future.