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Ireland provides tech lesson for San Francisco school children

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Mayor Ed Lee's recent trip to Europe provided him with a new outlook on tech education. - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy Photo
  • Mayor Ed Lee's recent trip to Europe provided him with a new outlook on tech education.

Teach children to code, and you may feed them for a lifetime — even in expensive San Francisco.

Middle school students are being taught programming language just as they might learn Spanish or English as a second language. With this introduction, they are getting a head start in the race to secure a career in a technology-driven world.

These students, however, are not in San Francisco middle schools; they are in Ireland.

Mayor Ed Lee witnessed youths across the pond being introduced to coding language and technology during his recent European junket. At Ireland’s “version of the Exploratorium,” Blackrock Castle in the city of Cork, Lee said he saw children learning animation and science. And at an outfit called CoderDojo — an example of which is in San Francisco, but not in schools here — Lee also saw students learn a few words of code.

The City’s middle school students lack even access to Wi-Fi, and thanks to tight budgets they also lack cash for tablets and other high-tech learning tools.

“It’s an interesting idea I’d like to incorporate” into San Francisco public schools, said Lee, who added that he wants to “get them to [private schools’] level of technology right away.”

The mayor has asked private companies such as Twitter and other successful tech firms to “adopt” one of San Francisco’s 12 middle schools to provide them with learning tools, and he said he may be able to announce a large private gift to schools within the next few weeks.

The technology exchange would be yet more proof that the Cork sister-city relationship is paying off beyond “the No. 1 thing, which is helping each other in business,” Lee said.

croberts@sfexaminer.com