by Hanna Vock


Lena (name changed) was eight years old when she had to spend a few weeks in a clinic, far away from her home. The clinic had its own school, the children had to bring their school supplies and a letter in which the home class teacher had listed which school material was to be given in the next six weeks.

Lena wanted to go to hospital school on the 3rd day after her serious operation because it was boring for her to lie on her back the whole day almost motionless and look up at the ceiling. She did not have to attend class for a long time and the nurses wanted to dissuade her. But Lena managed to get her to go to school in bed.

She was very lucky and met a sovereign and mentally mobile young teacher. He briefly checked the contents of the schoolbooks for the next few weeks, was visibly surprised and said: „You can do it all already“.

He only needed a few seconds to make the decision: „Then we can put away our school supplies.“ A few seconds later followed the question: „Do you want to learn to program on the computer?“ It was a long time ago, and it was a C 64, but the young teacher was already fit because of his own interest in computing. Here he had something he also wanted to teach, although the subject of computer science did not yet exist in schools, let alone in primary schools.

It only took Lena seconds to say yes without having an exact idea what „programming“ meant. But she was highly gifted, had already skipped a class and apparently had confidence in the teacher in a few seconds. After all, he had recognized what she was already capable of at lightning speed, and had drawn a reasonable conclusion: Put away school supplies. Then his suggestion could also be interesting.

Nothing is without problems:
How can you work on the computer when you have to lie in a plaster bed after the operation? But there were two people here who were capable of unconventional solutions.

„When may you get up?“ „In one week, I’ll get a plaster corset and will be allowed to wallk.“ „Well, we’ll have to do some theory first.“

The word „theory“ had magic powers for the eight-year-old. It played a big role in every phone call with the family.
A clipboard, which held not only the upper but also the lower paper margin, helped Lena to write down the programming rules and steps that the teacher taught her. Soon the first small programs were written, because Lena only stopped working „when the clipboard had fallen on her nose a few times and her arm forces were exhausted“ (original sound teacher). After a break she continued because she loved to learn programming.

Later the leg forces limited the workload, because a plaster corset is a heavy thing and she was not allowed to sit down at all. So Lena stood in front of the computer and tried out whether the programs developed in theory worked in practice. And so it was continued until the legs threatened to buckle – then theory went on.

Lena learned a lot in these weeks. The discomforts of hospital life were suppressed in her feelings by her enthusiasm for learning. When she returned to her home class, absolutely no rework was necessary. It was as if she hadn’t missed a day at all. But she was now able to program – which could not be demonstrated at school and which, unfortunately, no one was interested in.


Date of publication in German: May 2012
Translation from German: Hanna Vock
(Sorry, there is no money for a professional translator. If you discover any gross errors, please let me know.

Copyright © Hanna Vock, see imprint.