“I was a teacher before I learned how to code. I became interested because it looked like a skill that offered huge possibilities for being creative. I saw people making and programming robots and coding graphical animations and thought it looked like a superpower, a way to make magical things happen with machines.” - Erik Nauman
Meet Erik Nauman, an educational technologist - someone who works in educational technology - at The Hewitt School in New York City. He helped start a local to ensure that his students became part of the larger women in technology network.
As part of Teacher Appreciation Week, we interviewed Erik and learned about some of his passions outside of technology along with his favorite parts of technology.
Q&A with Erik Naumann:
What was your dream job growing up?
I wanted to be an artist or a musician.
What do you do now?
Now, I work at The Hewitt School in NYC in educational technology.
Were you always interested in computers?
No, I really only became interested in computers in the past 10 years. Growing up, I was most interested in art, music, teaching, learning, and nature.
Why did you join the Girls Who Code movement?
I wanted to give my students the feeling of belonging to a greater community of girls in computer science.
Do you sense a fear or insecurity around learning to code from your students? How does being in an all female environment affect that?
In my experience teaching at an all girls school, I do see many girls feeling intimidated when they see code and are expected to work with it. However, there are many who also find it amazing and exciting to learn. I feel like those who get intimidated are seeing it through stereotypes that tell them girls are not able to code, are not good with computers, math, or science. When I teach, I expose my students to programming in interesting and fun ways so that over time they’ll see coding as a normal and thing to do, just like writing or reading.
Why did you learn to code?
I was a teacher before I learned how to code. I became interested because it looked like a skill that offered huge possibilities for being creative. I saw people making and programming robots and coding graphical animations and thought it looked like a superpower, a way to make magical things happen with machines.
What was the hardest part of learning to code?
Learning the basic, common concepts shared by many programming languages took a while for me. However, having an understanding of those concepts makes it easier to learn any new language I want to.
Did you ever encounter people who stereotyped you because you code?
People have made the assumption that I can make technology do anything because I can code. I have had to be patient in helping people understand what is reasonable and what is possible.
Has coding made you more confident?
It has opened up creative possibilities that I like to share with people, which has made me happier.
Has coding helped you accept failure?
I had a hard time learning to wire and program an LED matrix. It was really complicated for me and after a couple weeks I gave it up. But later I picked it up again and figured out how to make it work, and eventually it turned into a fun project that was very successful.
Is coding creative? How?
Absolutely! There are usually many ways to do something so just finding solutions to coding problems is a creative process.
Who is your role model?
What’s your favorite piece of advice from your role model?
It’s not so much what she said, but that she considers the big picture in her approach to software development. She always thought about how it will be used and safeguarded to make it dependable under different conditions. That is how her software saved the .
What’s your favorite piece of technology?
I love to work with Arduino micro controllers.
Interested in being a teacher for Girls Who Code?