“Why would you do that?” Ms. Chen yelled at me. I, still in sixth grade, didn’t dare to explain. Yet, I felt confused.
Why couldn’t I discuss homework with my friends on Facebook?
Furious, I decided to find a way to discuss homework with my peers, without Ms. Chen’s knowledge. Instant messaging apps still weren’t popular back then, and since Facebook was not an option, I decided to try to build my own app.
But I didn’t have any experience building apps…
Anyways, I began building.
Over the next week, I devoted myself to learning how to build an Android app from scratch. I bought a book that introduced me to AppInventor2, an app-building tool, and spent hours on YouTube programming tutorials. Finally, the result was an app that included a shared Google Drive folder where we could share our thoughts and discuss homework.
A few days after I announced the app to my classmates, Ms. Chen learned about it. She talked to me, but this time, contrary to my expectation, she didn’t scold me. Instead, she explained to me why she did not want us to discuss the assignment: it was designed to be finished independently and she had planned time for class discussion accordingly.
I suddenly realized that perhaps teachers, being humans, would not actively stymie student learning by forbidding discussions.
Regardless, the app had already been created. Though not particularly useful, it surely kickstarted my programming career.