Want to ask James Whelton a Question?

  • CoderDojo Foundation

    James Whelton, the Co-founder of CoderDojo wants you to ask him your questions!

    Ever wondered how James initially came up with the idea for CoderDojo? What’s his favorite language to code in? Or his hobbies outside of coding?

    Now is your chance!

    Post your questions below and he will answer them on Friday the 4th of November

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  • Banned

    Is it OK to be critical of Islam (i.e. completely outside of the CoderDojo) and still be a mentor in a CoderDojo? I ask because I linked to an article with critique of the Quran in a closed discussion on Facebook, and then I was stopped as a mentor because of this. I am very inclusive and have nothing against muslim kids, parents or mentors, except I don’t believe in the so called holy Quran. I do not mention this disbelief during the dojo, but could mention it on e.g. Twitter. I was active for many years as a CoderDojo-mentor and have developed many resources, see my GitHub https://github.com/mobluse . I’m employed full time as a substitute teacher in maths, physics, chemistry, biology and technology. I have MSc in Physics from Lund University, See https://politikmobil.wordpress.com/2016/08/20/coderdojo-foundation-does-not-allow-mentors-to-link-to-critique-of-the-quran-in-a-private-discussion/

  • CoderDojo Foundation

    Hi @Mikael-Bonnier ,

    As spoken about on our previous calls with you, your Champion and other volunteers from the Dojo, we have discussed how a series of incidents has led to you being asked to discontinue as a mentor within the Community.

    In 2013 the CoderDojo Charter was created so that all Dojos and their volunteers as well as parents and kids respect diversity and are fully inclusive regardless of religion, race and creed.

    If you would like to further discuss this issue with us you can contact Pete or Rosa directly via email or skype.

    Best wishes,

    The CoderDojo Foundation team

  • Hi James, Looking back over the past years, did you ever imagine what CoderDojo would / could turn out to be when you started back in the day in Cork? What was the moment you started realising this was going to be big and how did that make you feel? Basically, How have you experienced the journey from your single setup un Cork to what CoderDojo is now?

  • Banned

    @Rosa-Langhammer Don’t lie. There were not a series of incidents. There was no incidents in the CoderDojo. I was just linking to a page in a private discussion on Facebook, and then an anonymous (not even claiming to be a parent or anyone who ever visited a CoderDojo) sent in libel to CoderDojo Foundation, see https://politikmobil.wordpress.com/2016/08/20/coderdojo-foundation-does-not-allow-mentors-to-link-to-critique-of-the-quran-in-a-private-discussion/

    I also have the recording of the phone meeting and can post that, because I have nothing to be ashamed of. You said I was not allowed to post it, even though we had no agreement about that. What would you do if I posted the recording of the meeting you made?

    Still, my question to James Whelton stand.

  • CoderDojo Foundation

    Hi @Mikael-Bonnier,

    In order not to disrupt this threads intended purpose and to allow other community members to ask James questions we will move this to email and include James.



  • CoderDojo Foundation

    Mr. Whelton, I will keep mine simple - what is your favorite thing about the CoderDojo Movement?

  • CoderDojo Foundation

    Hey James, CoderDojo promotes child-led learning and peer mentoring which I think (as a parent) is a fantastic way to get children and young people to not just learn but understand what they are doing and why they are doing it. My question for you is, if you were a able to completely revamp the current education system in Ireland what changes would you make and why?

  • CoderDojo Foundation

    CoderDojo turned five this year and has over 1,000 Dojos all over the world. Some of the kids from the early Dojos are in college, working or starting their own companies. Where would you like to see the movement in 5 more years, and what do you think we should be doing to keep in touch with all those former Ninjas?

  • MegaDojo

    Hi James,
    I would like to know your view on the Foundation getting involved in the running of an individual Dojo as per the post above?

    We should not get into the details of the actual case here as that is between Mikael and his ex-dojo however the timeline was an interesting read.

    In the email sent to @Mikael-Bonnier the Foundation stated:
    “Any complaints received about a Dojo or its mentors not embodying this core principle are investigated in full by the CoderDojo Foundation.”

    This is opposite to the charter (which I co-wrote) which states:
    “You are solely responsible for the activities conducted by your own Dojo. Agreeing to this Charter does not constitute endorsement of those activities by the CoderDojo Foundation.”

    Our Dojo is independent and I would not and will not accept a charter that changed that in any way.


  • CoderDojo Foundation

    Hi James,
    firstly thanks for putting yourself forward and volunteering your time to answer questions from community members around the world. :cartwheel_tone3: :globe_with_meridians:
    It’s amazing to think of you and Bill setting up the first Dojo when you were still a youth yourself!
    I’ve two questions:

    • What’s the most inspirational CoderDojo related story you’ve ever heard?

    • If you were to write a book, what would it be about?

    Thanks again! :clap_tone2:


  • Mr. Whelton,

    What are the future plans for CoderDojo in Brazil?

    How can I help with the foundation goals from here?

    Thank you for your time!


  • Hi @Christian-Vermeulen, hope you are well!

    The experience of the journey of our first Dojo in Cork to what CoderDojo is now, has been pretty unbelievable, I am still in awe of what it is now. I don’t think there was a definitive moment that I went “this is going to be big“, more so a series of events opened my eyes more and more each time, like when Ben started the 2nd CoderDojo in Dublin, when Eugene created DojoCon, when Noel, Ben and Paul created Coolest Projects, the start of the MegaDojos, the book by Clyde, to name a few. The last DojoCon opened my eyes again at the scale and the diverse range of impact, learnings and opportunities.

    What is very exciting for me, is now that CoderDojo is 5 years old, is to see all the young people who were attendees 5 years ago and are now involved or getting involved at an organisational level, take their experiences and ideas and implement them. Thats a very exciting future :)

    Thank you for your question :)

  • Hi @Ross-ONeill!
    Hope you are well!

    Favourite thing about the CoderDojo movement, outside of us fulfilling and expanding upon the original vision of giving young people an opportunity to code, is the community that surrounds it and what it achieves. The community has been the reason for growth and the development of the CoderDojo movement (DojoCon, Coolest Projects, MegaDojos, etc), always bringing it to new levels. Without the community it’d be nothing, so I am delighted to see the passion and discussion around making CoderDojo the best it can be and as a result giving young people the great opportunity we can.

    Thank you for your question!

  • Hi @Rachel-Schoene!

    Hmmm tricky one, I can’t confess to have a definitive answer as its now 5 years since I sat my final exams (thankfully!), but from my personal experience in school, one thing I would push more if I could would be mental health education. I know so many people, including myself, who have had difficulty with their mental health while in school. Teaching when to identify when there is an issue, how to address it or where to get help, in addition to how to identify it in others, those learnings are extremely important in a life long respect and it is upsetting when I see people struggle.

    I understand the education system is fickle, thats why a strength of CoderDojo has always to be detached, but I have great respect for teachers and those who work in the education system because of it’s challenges!

    Thank you for your question :)

  • Hi @Philip-Harney!
    hope you are well!

    So I partially mentioned this in my response to Ross, but in 5 years I don’t know fully what we can expect as we have a generation of community members who will have the unique perspective of having gone through CoderDojo and will implement changes we would have never thought about!

    I would like see the recognition flourish through badges and more coordination of the belt system, in addition to more resources (tools, guides, etc) to really make starting and running a Dojo as easy and fun as can be. Work to make the movement sustainable is important and understanding these last 5 years, what worked, what didn’t work, is important insight to influence our next 5, 10, 15, however many years!

    I’m not sure how best to keep in contact with the alumni network, but I think Zen could be powerful (maybe one day they’ll be linking to their Zen profile on their LinkedIns). I really look forward to is the increased amount of stories from former Ninjas, that’ll make their mentors proud. I’m really excited to see the Ninjas who go into politics, civil service, agriculture and other traditionally non tech areas and see what impact they make there!

    Thank you for your question!

  • Hi @Eugene-McDonough!
    Hope you’re well!

    Sure! So there always has been a separation between the movement and foundation, and the founding vision of the foundation has been to be a resource, be that in supporting various components of the movement, developing resources, offering assistance and guidance, etc.

    In such case as above, if a champion or Dojo requires assistance with something, be it a matter internally in the Dojo and they feel assistance would be beneficial, I would implore them to reach out to the foundation and get that assistance. Some Dojos will be better equipped or more experienced in dealing with various matters, others may want guidance or support which is very understandable.

    The other element is, there should be a structured entity for which people can submit queries to and get responses and follow up, the foundation fulfils this role. Which respect to investigation, it is to be able to provide an answer or help highlight a matter to a champion/Dojo. It is important that queries are followed up on, in order to protect the movement and ensure the charter is being upheld.

    So while I am conscious about talking about a specific case as it may be sensitive to different people involved, in brief, the case mentioned above was a combination of both these factors: the foundation was contacted, it followed up on the query and got its answer, which then resulted in a champion wanting additional support in resolving matter and it provided that, following protocol.

    I hear your concern, its one people have had over the years, about what if the foundation was to over-reach, and its particularly sensitive when as a champion, you run a Dojo and are answerable to all the attendees and volunteers and are passionate about protecting them and your Dojo.

    No doubt as the movements continues, the foundation will continue to solidify it’s remit with respect to the movement and our experiences will colour this. Having found the foundation and being a board member, I condemn that which poses risk to the independence or autonomy of a Dojo, whilst advocating the protection and support of the movement.

    Thank you :)

  • CoderDojo Foundation

    @James-Whelton wow really great reply, mental health is so important to address, especially when it comes to our young people! I totally agree teachers are amazing, It’s a real vocation. Wishing you well, really enjoyed reading your responses to others questions too. Rachel :)

  • Hi @Nuala-Nic-Éil!
    hope you are well and thank you!

    I’ve heard quite a few inspirational stories, I’m conscious about singling anyone out, but I’ve seen kids who’ve whole social circle has formed out of friends they’ve made at Dojos, I’ve seen kids who come from pretty bleak circumstance learn an incredibly valuable skill-set and have had their expectations on what they can achieve in life dramatically increase, I’ve seen parents whose child might have a mental or physical disability, be able to engage and have fun over coding together. Definitely the education element is extreme compelling, but what really touches my heart is seeing the impact its had on a child and their family and their well being.

    If I were to write a book, it’d probably be on running multiple web apps at once as one person! I have a whole host of web apps/e-commerce stores/etc that I solely maintain, so I have all sorts of notification systems, reporting tools, trello boards, ways of breaking up time, etc. Its been tough keeping all those plates spinning, but I feel I’m getting closer to have a scalable approach to doing it without burning myself out :)

    Thank you!

  • @Rachel-Schoene thank you Rachel! Greatly appreciated :)

  • Hi @Fernando-Rodrigues!
    Hope you are keeping well!

    So for Brazil in particular, I’m not sure. In South America we are hoping to stimulate the growth of Dojos, link up with the existing community based movements out there and explore regionalisation, however I believe this is mostly Argentina. One of the foundation team will be in South America for 4 months (mainly Peru, Argentina and Chile) but may reach out if their travel plans change.

    CoderDojo has limited resources in Portuguese, so theres opportunity to help translate content there. Also the Future Maker awards (see here: https://coderdojo.com/futuremakers/) is open to youths aged 10 - 17 in Brazil if thats of interest.

    Always open to have a call with the team in the foundation to explore :)

    Best wishes,

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