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British Schoolchildren To Get Programming Lessons 273

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the cool-kids-code dept.
judgecorp writes "The British Education Secretary Michael Gove has said that the school ICT curriculum will be scrapped and replaced with programming and real computer science. Britain's schoolchildren have had compulsory ICT (information and communications technology) lessons for some time, but they are hated by staff and pupils alike, amounting to little more than Power Point training, using the products rather than understanding the code. There is room for improvement — and the British-designed Raspberry Pi could be part of this, but can the new system break away from the old product-centric regime when it will apparently be sponsored by companies including Google and Microsoft?"
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British Schoolchildren To Get Programming Lessons

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  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Wednesday January 11, 2012 @10:36AM (#38663002)

    the current ICT curriculum will be scrapped in September this year, to be replaced by compulsory lessons in computer science and programming.

    While I appreciate the need to expose students to computer classes in the same way they're exposed to other subjects, I don't think that something as specific as programming should be a *mandatory* requirement. Programming is a vocation, like many vocations, that some people are cut out for and other people are not. Those with a true passion for it will actively seek it out and those with no interest in it will hate it no matter how many programming classes you force them take. You can't MAKE a great programmer any more than you can MAKE a great engineer, mechanic, etc. Someone has to WANT it first. And forcing someone to take a programming class isn't going to make them a better programmer, any more than forcing me to take a class in shop is going to make me a better carpenter.

    I think vocational classes should always be optional. Expose the kids to it, fine. Talk about vocations like programming in mandatory classes, but ultimately let the kids CHOOSE the optional classes based on their interests. The idea that you can turn your country into a tech giant just by forcing kids to take programming classes is ridiculous (if anything, you'll create a country that RESENTS programming).

    Offer the classes, make them intensive and varied, and let the kids who WANT to be programmers come to YOU (and they will).

    • by SJHillman (1966756) on Wednesday January 11, 2012 @10:41AM (#38663060)

      Way back in 6th grade, we did "programming" with LogoWriter as a topic of our overall computer class (along with the basics like word processing, basic file management, Oregon Trail and of course typing). It was a nice introduction to programming that was suitable to that level of schooling. We were also given enough leeway to play around with variables and try new things that it piqued the interest of almost everybody. However, and entire class on just programming may be a bit much. Maybe offer programming as an alternative to having to take a foreign language (why is that mandatory anyway?).

      • by sandytaru (1158959) on Wednesday January 11, 2012 @10:49AM (#38663158) Journal
        The most programming I did when I was in primary and secondary school was using the simplified form of BASIC to write programs for our TI-82 calculators. The best part of that? If we were successful in programming our calculators, we were permitted to use them to crunch equations for our physics and math classes. If we screwed up the programming, we screwed up the tests. But if we were successful in coding the programs, then we'd score well on the tests. The trick was that all programming had to occur within classes just before the test; no transferring or copying programs from calculator to calculator the night before. (We had to leave them in the classrooms overnight before tests.) This served two major functions: It taught us the guts of the equations, and it taught us some of the most essential raw programming skills. One girl did such an amazing job with her physics programs that she scored a one hundred percent on the final exam, a first in the history of the school.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by umghhh (965931)

        ...Maybe offer programming as an alternative to having to take a foreign language (why is that mandatory anyway?).

        You realize of course that foreign language is a basic skill for almost anybody in the world as it lets kids recognize the fact that there are people beyond borders of your country and that these people speak, it allows you also to know about these people and communicate with them. Besides this it may allow you to be exposed to other cultures which may be beneficial.

        OTOH I always hated big part of my curriculum. I understood at some point that the school (university also) is just a tool that lets you learn

      • The insistence of a (linguistic) language, here in Scotland at least (different education system to England & Wales) is part of a broader thing. When I was at school in the late 80s and early 90s the following were compulsory to age 14ish:

        English
        Maths
        Science - either a general, low level class, or more specialist physics, chemistry and/or biology
        A language (inc Latin if offered)
        Physical Education
        Religious Studies (not oriented at any particular religion)
        Art/music

        So it's part of ensuring a wi
      • by jc79 (1683494)

        ... Maybe offer programming as an alternative to having to take a foreign language (why is that mandatory anyway?).

        Because there are 3 non-English languages in the United Kingdom which are used in the various legislative bodies of the constituent nations (Welsh, Scots Gaeilic, Scots including Ulster Scots) and many more European languages spoken right next door. France is only 26 miles across the Channel, Belgium only slightly further, The Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and Norway are only an hour or so's flight away. The UK is a European nation, despite what certain Tory backbenchers and the Daily Mail and Daily Express

    • by Nursie (632944) on Wednesday January 11, 2012 @10:49AM (#38663156)

      Except these things have such a huge presence and impact on the modern world that a mandatory intro to understanding and programming them is a damn good idea.

      Besides which, computer science is not necessarily vocational, it's also an academic and theoretical science.

      "You can't MAKE a great programmer any more than you can MAKE a great engineer, mechanic, etc?"

      No, but you can make sure they get exposed to it, like we do with sciences, languages and literature.

      Those with a true passion for it will actively seek it out

      And this is where you fail. They may know nothing about it.

      Besides which, if you read TFA you'd find out this isn't several years course resulting in exams, just a replacement to the current braindead "Here is how to open a document in word, here is how to change a font" bullcrap that's passed off as "Computer Education" in British schools at present.

      Examined courses (GCSE at 14-16, A-Level at 16-18) will still be optional. If I'd known about programming (other than C64 Basic) when I was 12 I'd have been all over that, as it was I didn't really start until university at 18. This is a very, very good thing.

      • by John Courtland (585609) on Wednesday January 11, 2012 @10:59AM (#38663288)
        I'm personally of the opinion that the vast majority of modern white collar jobs are going to require some form of computer programming in the very near future. For example, my wife works in supply chain and the ridiculous shit they do because they are simply ignorant of even 50 year old computing methods cause them to waste a considerable amount of time and resources. It's not uncommon either, people get in a rut doing repetitive, computationally simple tasks because they don't know any better. Those kinds of jobs are doomed and I think that in order to be competitive or even hire-able you will need to know how to automate the minutiae.
        • by umghhh (965931)

          I'm personally of the opinion that the vast majority of modern white collar jobs are going to be off shored in the near future.

          .

          Here it is I fixed it for you.

      • by tehcyder (746570)

        Besides which, if you read TFA you'd find out this isn't several years course resulting in exams, just a replacement to the current braindead "Here is how to open a document in word, here is how to change a font" bullcrap that's passed off as "Computer Education" in British schools at present.

        So do you think that children just magically know how to open a document in word and change a font?

        They might seem laughably simple to an adult, but then so does adding 9 + 22 or spelling "picture".

        The relationship between learning how to use Powerpoint and writing computer programs is approximately the same as that between knowing how to read and write and writing a poem or short story.

        • by Nursie (632944)

          "So do you think that children just magically know how to open a document in word and change a font? "

          Clearly you've not been through the UK education system, in which Opening a document in word and changing the font could be the entire curriculum for a year's IT course.

          No, I think that children need to be told that programming is a thing, have it demonstrated to them that it's not necessarily that hard to get started, and that you can do more with all these fabulous technological devices than receive them,

        • by sarabob (544622)

          Given that they have been required to produce 'posters' since primary school and the first thing they want to do is change the font to comic sans, *yes*, they all know how to open a document and change a font.

          At least since year 2 (6 year olds), anyway. TFA is about secondary ICT, which is incredibly *still* about powerpoint/word up to GCSE level.

          When I asked one teacher if they taught any programming in ICT responded 'There's no point, because any language we teach them will be obsolete by the time they le

    • by SpinyNorman (33776) on Wednesday January 11, 2012 @10:52AM (#38663204)

      Some basic undrestanding of computers isn't really vocational - nowadays they are so pervasive (in all your gadgets as well as computers themselves) that it's really basic knowledge. I'd put knowledge of how computers work (incl. basic programming) in the same class as something like physical geography (how mountains, glaciers form, etc)... If you want to understand the world around you then these are basics you need to know... it's more a matter of foundational knowledge than vocational training.

      • by elrous0 (869638) *

        I'm fine with a mandatory "Basic Computer Science" class or something along those lines, one that *exposes* kids to programming. But actual programming classes are getting into a specific vocation. And that, like all specific vocational classes, should be optional. I wouldn't want my mechanic to be forced to take a programming class any more than *I* would want to be forced to take a mechanic class (even though both are quite useful skills to have).

        • by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday January 11, 2012 @12:23PM (#38664242) Journal

          Actual programming classes aren't vocational any more than writing classes are vocational. Not everyone is going to be an author, but everyone can benefit from knowing how to write well. The same goes for programming.

          • by elrous0 (869638) *

            Everyone can benefit from a basic knowledge of carpentry and automotive mechanics too. Would you like to make those mandatory as well?

            • by dave420 (699308)
              We had mandatory woodworking and metalworking lessons at school, including electronics and other stuff like that. It was pretty useful.
            • by wed128 (722152)

              Basic Wood Shop was a mandatory class in middle school where i grew up in New Jersey. Auto Shop was an elective. I went to a regular high school, not a vocational school.

              I in no way think the wood shop that i took was a waste of time (I am a programmer). I wish now that i had taken auto shop, because i can't change my own oil.

          • by CastrTroy (595695)
            However, can you learn to program well from a single programming course? Students take years of English classes and are immersed in the language, and still many students/people can't write a coherent thoughts longer than a single sentence. There's going to have to be quite a bit of instuction in programming to get people up to a level where they can actually use it to benefit their lives, or to make their job easier. Most people working in some kind of office would be extremely more efficient if they had
    • As ubiquitous as CPUs have become, maybe understanding how they work is becoming a good idea in general, and not as "specific" to vocational programmers as it once was.

      • by Gordonjcp (186804)

        I guess it's a bit like the driving test - as part of that you need to demonstrate that you know how to check things like the oil and water and that you know at least theoretically how to change a wheel.

        It's not that everyone is expected to go out and become a car mechanic, it's that drivers are expected to know why it's a bad idea to drive around on flat tyres with no oil in the engine.

    • by vlm (69642)

      Programming education done right forces people to think logically and break down from top level goals to individual machine language instructions/microcode.
      Very applicable for any person in almost any field. Much virtually no one uses calculus once they graduate, but everyone has to learn it, because its excellent logical/mental training for hard science related work.
      Programming training (aka code monkey and IT) is probably not necessarily useful.

      Another interesting area is everyone likes to think they're

    • Some kids might love it, but not know until they try. Their parents may just sit them in front of a games console or send them outside and not give them any access to the 'net or books for them to find stuff that they enjoy.

      I'd say have at least one "compulsory" programming session, maybe a few since you can't do much in one class. There are all sorts of classes in school to get kids to try vocational-type things that they may hate. Art, music, mathematics, science.. they all take a certain type of person t

    • by Shimbo (100005)

      the current ICT curriculum will be scrapped in September this year, to be replaced by compulsory lessons in computer science and programming.

      While I appreciate the need to expose students to computer classes in the same way they're exposed to other subjects, I don't think that something as specific as programming should be a *mandatory* requirement.

      Fortunately, the quote is pretty much the opposite of what he said. A better summary would be:

      1. ICT will continue to be mandatory.
      2. The detailed, government required program requirements will be abolished.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It's not about forcing kids to become programmers, it's about exposing them to and teaching them actual things about computers rather than just how to use Office. In the same way that you don't try and teach advanced quantum theory at highschool level, but you do introduce the basic concepts and how they apply to physics in a general sense.

      I mercifully missed out on ICT being taught at GCSE because it wasn't brought in until after I left school, but having seen my brother's sample exam paper I don't know wh

    • by RMingin (985478)

      Nobody (except you, apparently) is talking about mandatory training to become a programmer. This is more like a familiarization course, so that they at least know what a programmer IS and what that job entails. An astounding percentage of people seem to consider "programmer" on par with "wizard" in terms of comprehension.

      • by Nursie (632944)

        As much as I approve of the educational changes, it is rather advantageous that the profession be thought of as wizardry, it keeps the numbers low and the money flowing!

    • But kids have mandatory arts for example (at least in other countries), to get them exposed to it. They don't yet know what they like.
    • I (somewhat) beg to differ:

      Software engineering is definitely a vocation(or at least a job). Paint-by-numbers in the corporate fad language of today, assured to be obsolete by the time you graduate, is also pure vocational training. So too are the specifics and details that are involved in large-scale projects(knowledge of revision control, project management and project-being-managed, etc, etc.)

      However, computer science is a branch of mathematics and arguably has the same claim as calculus or geometr
    • by inviolet (797804) <slashdot@ideasmatt e r .org> on Wednesday January 11, 2012 @11:14AM (#38663458) Journal

      While I appreciate the need to expose students to computer classes in the same way they're exposed to other subjects, I don't think that something as specific as programming should be a *mandatory* requirement. Programming is a vocation, like many vocations, that some people are cut out for and other people are not. Those with a true passion for it will actively seek it out and those with no interest in it will hate it no matter how many programming classes you force them take. You can't MAKE a great programmer any more than you can MAKE a great engineer, mechanic, etc. Someone has to WANT it first.

      I taught my two sons to program. Only one of them liked it, but they both got an astonishing side benefit from it: it taught them to see their own brains as software... with algorithms and bugs. In the context of a broader parent-child discussion of recognizing and dealing with personality bugs, programming seems to make it real, in a way that no amount of lecture can.

      Haven't you noticed how few people are introspective, how few are even capable of thinking that their thoughts and feelings may be incorrect?

    • by Natales (182136)
      I disagree. By making programming mandatory you help these kids create new ways of thinking. It's not about the programming itself, it's about learning how to understand interactions among abstract entities, and how to take a problem and separate it into many smaller problems. Those skills are valid for all disciplines and are useful all your life regardless of what you end up doing in life.

      As an added bonus, 20 years from now, none of those kids will see computers as magic, and they would have learned a
    • Anything that exposes people to what programming a computer is really about is a good thing. Maybe in 20 years there will be a bunch of managers and hr people that say stuff like, "how can you possibly think you will get that system implemented in 2 months, you need 2 years at least!", or, "No bob, we don't need a programmer to manage our twitter feed."
    • by Bert64 (520050)

      I fully agree with this, if you force kids to take programming classes most of them will HATE the class...
      The result of this is that the kids who hate the class will disrupt their peers, so that even the kids who might be interested in programming will be put off either via peer pressure or due to the classroom environment being too unruly.

      They do need to teach general IT tho, not programming but the general concepts of performing common tasks such as accessing the internet and typing a letter. What they sh

      • by delinear (991444)

        I fully agree with this, if you force kids to take programming classes most of them will HATE the class... The result of this is that the kids who hate the class will disrupt their peers, so that even the kids who might be interested in programming will be put off either via peer pressure or due to the classroom environment being too unruly.

        That exact same argument could equally be applied to almost all the compulsory classes that get taught. I had to do something called "combined arts". This consisted of moving around all of the "artistic" disciplines, spending something like 6 weeks on each, which was just long enough that you couldn't get your teeth into anything that might be interesting. I had zero interest in learning to play an instrument, or dance, or acting, or textiles - the actual art part was okay but we didn't have enough time on

    • An important part of school is exposing us to subjects we would not even consider otherwise, and give us the most basic concepts in them. As a programmer, of course, I thank for the 12 years worth of Mathematics I got, plus many concepts that were given to me in Physics, Chemistry... But I do not reject learning grammar, literature, history or biology. As many geeks (and unlike most of the rest) I hated physical education, but as an adult have to recognize its importance. We had several subjects, all of the

    • by dkleinsc (563838)

      Programming is a vocation, like many vocations, that some people are cut out for and other people are not.

      Computer science isn't the same thing as programming, first off. One of my CS profs pointed out that you can think of CS as a particular variety of applied math, and that it helps develop logical thinking, breaking down problems into component parts, and analyzing algorithms.

      But even programming is something that has applications outside of software development. It arguably benefits anybody working in mathematical or scientifically oriented fields - accountants can make more sense out of spreadsheet macros,

    • by Hatta (162192)

      Programming is not just a vocation. It's a life skill. Nearly everone uses a computer daily, and everyones daily life could be improved by using a little automation. Even if you never write a script you use yourself, understanding how programming is done allows you to understand the kinds of things that can be done and helps you ask the right kinds of questions.

      Programming is one of those skills everyone should at least be exposed to, in order to be a well rounded individual.

      • by elrous0 (869638) *

        Automotive Mechanics is not just a vocation. It's a life skill. Nearly everyone uses a car daily, and everyones daily life could be improved by knowing a little auto repair. Even if you never rebuild a engine, understanding how auto repair work is done allows you to understand the kinds of things that can be done and helps you ask the right kinds of questions.

        Automotive Mechanics is one of those skills everyone should at least be exposed to, in order to be a well rounded individual.

    • by Rogerborg (306625)
      Understanding the principles of how to make a computer work is no more 'vocational' in today's world than understanding the principles of opening a door.
    • While I appreciate the need to expose students to computer classes in the same way they're exposed to other subjects, I don't think that something as specific as programming should be a *mandatory* requirement. Programming is a vocation, like many vocations, that some people are cut out for and other people are not.

      Fortunately, there are people [programbydesign.org] out there who beg to differ. They elaborate on their point of view in the preface to their learning materials [htdp.org], and it seems that they have succeeded in convincing quite a lot of people.

      I have also been introduced into basics of biology and chemistry in high school, but despite becoming neither a professional biologist nor a chemist by vocation, I don't grumble about that. And more people come into direct contact with computer programs than with phyllogenetic trees and nitration

    • It got me into computing, and I picked it up so fast that I became a mentor. We basically programmed out own little games.

      In first grade. This was right after they were released in the USA. Public school system. Looking back it seems to be have been pretty progressive for the time. Beyond grades 3-5 we never did much of any computing as the industry sort of stuttered. When I got to middle school there was NO computing programs with the exception of Atari STs in the art classes. Of which I jumped at and it g

    • by rev0lt (1950662)

      Programming is a vocation, like many vocations, that some people are cut out for and other people are not.

      You mean, like arts, sports, geography, history, math, physics, etc?
      I see no harm in exposing young students to basic programming concepts. The objective isn't creating new programmers, is teching people about how software works, and how to decompose problems into logical expressions, which is - by itself - a valuable addition to any field.

  • by Twinbee (767046) on Wednesday January 11, 2012 @10:42AM (#38663072) Homepage
    I hope that the plot(x,y,r,g,b) function is featured as part of their lessons, because that can easily multiply a student's interest by a factor of 10.

    There's nothing quite like being able to control any part of the screen. When I started off on the ZX spectrum, I was just drawing dots, lines and circles. And it looked rubbish, but it felt amazing, especially when animation came into play. Today, I'm doing more this kind of stuff [skytopia.com], but at the heart of it is the plot(x,y,r,g,b) function.
    • by Hooya (518216)

      I had the exact same feeling and I was on a ZX spectrum too! It was awesome changing one little variable to change the colors in a for loop etc.. you're absolutely right, that really got me hooked on programming.

      • by Twinbee (767046)
        Indeed - what I would've done for a faster plot or circle function back then :)

        And we mustn't forget about sound too. Just instead of the x and y, we have time and volume/pressure, which can of course be represented by the x and y again. I was in awe when I realized I could 'draw' the wave of a sound with simple maths and have it played back (that was on the Amiga and in AMOS). Some surprisingly effective sounds can be created using very little knowledge of maths and sheer experimentation.
    • by s_p_oneil (795792)

      I agree, but it's even better to give them a basic set of 2D primitives (point, line, rect, oval, poly, text, textured sprite) and a range of music and sound effects. Let them play with their own sprite textures, animate them, move them around on the screen, and play silly sound effects. Some of them will be creating their own silly graphics demos or side-scrollers in no time.

    • by hughbar (579555)
      I agree about the 'control' aspect. I taught my son in about 1988: 10 print "hello" ; 20 goto 10 ; [as one does or did then] just the stupidity + the power [because computers are basically leverage of some kind] was very attractive. These are things that you can do immediately, control the machine. So graphics, logo, messing around, mindstorms will probably be attractive to many, even those that can't deal with discrete math etc. etc.

      Also, if the policy and schools are actually intelligent, peering learn
  • by Karmashock (2415832) on Wednesday January 11, 2012 @10:42AM (#38663074)

    If this is well done then it will be great. If not, then it will be a disaster.

    So... here's hoping they don't cock it up.

  • Wrong sponsors (Score:5, Interesting)

    by vlm (69642) on Wednesday January 11, 2012 @10:46AM (#38663122)

    can the new system break away from the old product-centric regime when it will apparently be sponsored by companies including Google and Microsoft?

    Sponsors are fine. The correct sponsors for a programming curriculum are my personal favorites microchip.com and xilinx.com, not The Mighty GOOG and MS. Give the kids a Spartan-3 FPGA starter kit, a PIC32MX1 starter kit, and a whole lot of tabs of acid, or at least 2 of the 3, and they'll do just fine.

    Note that a "real CS curriculum" is a lot of discrete math and database theory (Codd normal forms, etc) so about 50% to 75% of a real CS curriculum just needs a whiteboard, no hardware, and optionally a box set of Knuth. This confuses the hell of out people who can't tell the difference between IT and CS, just like its easy to confuse the hell out of people who can't tell the difference between education and training.

  • by asdf7890 (1518587) on Wednesday January 11, 2012 @10:54AM (#38663224)
    And not before time!

    Though please don't rush overly on my account Mr Gove: one of the advantages of the current system from my PoV is that it wasn't training up any young enthusiastic replacements for me, so I might be able to keep my career moving when I get old(er) and (more) belligerent!
  • Can, but will? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by djchristensen (472087) on Wednesday January 11, 2012 @11:05AM (#38663340)

    but can the new system break away from the old product-centric regime when it will apparently be sponsored by companies including Google and Microsoft?"

    Yes, it can, but whether it will or not is probably an open question, especially on Microsoft's part. Both Google and Microsoft have a vested interest in creating the software developers of the future, but I can see Microsoft having a hard time not trying to use the opportunity to create more Microsoft product users at the same time.

  • by gmuslera (3436) * on Wednesday January 11, 2012 @11:06AM (#38663362) Homepage Journal
    Included with the OLPC computers for children was Scratch [mit.edu], referenced in the article. Even Google App Inventor for android was based on it. For me looked lgreat, something that even a primary school children could use to do from very small to somewhat complex things. Also included are turtle art, a logo interpreter (simpler, but is so close scratch to it that not sure if worth teaching it) and a python interpreter (but it should be for more advanced/grown up childrens). Something like this should be adopted in schools, not particulary to teach about computing and programming, but on thinking, solving problems in ordered ways.
  • The vast majority of UK teachers "delivering ICT curriculum" are late-middle aged business studies teachers only capable of showing kids where the bold button is and this is the fundamental problem.

    Even that phrase should terrify you - they deliver the curriculum (i.e. hand out workbooks) and then patrol the shop floor for slackers and the curriculum is "ICT". Something so divorced from real computing its got its own TLA that only really exists in education.

    There are exceptions of course, real geeks with a

  • by fantomas (94850) on Wednesday January 11, 2012 @11:28AM (#38663614)

    Nice idea, but are you going to find X thousand teachers capable of teaching programming by September? or be able to *properly* train the current ones?

    I assume if they are working up the new curriculum now, it will be ready in a couple of months (if you're lucky), which gives you about 3 months to distribute the curriculum to schools before they all go off on their summer holidays. 12 weeks then to get the teachers up to speed on the new courses.

    I am not saying it's impossible - teachers are amazing, and incredibly dedicated. But declaring you're going to teach something which isn't currently being taught has a lead in time to get the schools up to speed. Or expect the teachers to work their evenings and weekends on an extra unpaid task (which will mean you will get highly variable results).

    Unless of course you throw a major company like Microsoft or Google a blank cheque, tell em to take as much money as they want and give you a bunch of passwords to some website (probably based on a foreign country's curriculum, e.g. USA, which might not align with the UK curricula) and get your students to drag themselves through some automated lessons.

    I think its political rhetoric. It can be done, and it would be cool to give some students programming skills, but I think it will take more than a few months to change the education system for a whole country and retrain the teachers.

    • I got my first job teaching computing in a high school, for the 15-18 year old groups. And yes, I probably got that job because the school's administration thought it was a dummy subject: I was 20 year old by then, and had absolutely no knowledge on how to stand in front of a group of 20 bored kids and keep their attention. That was, yes, the main reason that made me fail as a teacher.

      However, there is another important reason: I was told to teach them Office software. The problem was, I was only mildly fam

  • by Crookdotter (1297179) on Wednesday January 11, 2012 @11:34AM (#38663672)
    I'm an ICT teacher who was roped into doing it (I'm 70% science, chem/phys, 30% ICT now). It has almost exclusively been excel and powerpoint training which is deadly dull. I enjoy programming in my spare time but nothing extensive (BASIC on the speccy, then VB when I got a PC, and am getting into C with the use and help of my Arduino). I also do CGI, with PS, modeling, animation, etc etc as well as HTML, flash coding and just about any other bits n peices I come across

    For so long ICT has been MS based. There are some exceptions - scratch is a simple programming language that is used in a small way for example. I doubt the capability of ICT teachers with programming and CS. I mean, I do electronics and programming as a hobby but do I have the extensive knowledge to teach it right? Unsure, but I bet I could punch through it. Other ICT teachers I'm not so sure about. I'm a fairly stereotypical geek with some social ability.

    If you're a decent coder and EE, why would you go into teaching? From the sciences (like me) I can understand - very low pay, low reward to work ratio. You'd do it for the love of it. If you're a decent coder you should be coding I'd say. I don't think we have the body of people to teach it in this country.

    But I hope it does change and I get to have a crack at it!
    • by Svartalf (2997)

      But I hope it does change and I get to have a crack at it!

      Heh... End of month, possibly first part of next, the hackers get a crack at the Raspberry PI's to start forming some of the concepts and possibly even helping form some of the advanced concept portions of an ICT/beginning college curriculum with the R-Pi (Some are contemplating GPGPU ideas and others are thinking cluster computing and similar as a teaching the concepts idea...I'm part of the clustering crowd over in their forums. It's not going to

    • by Hentes (2461350)

      The majority of students won't become programmers but office biobots in which case this knowledge comes very handy. There is a need to teach the use of office software to people who are not technically-minded enough to figure it out. So I won't say it's useless, it's just not a substitute for an IT course.

      As for finding teachers, the payment is a big issue, the industry pays far more than a school will. But I've seen a solution in some schools where informatics teachers were also the sysadmins, thus receivi

    • Many of the generation of programmers I'm in were self-taught.

      At my school, we had no structured lessons involving computers, but we did have a computer lab packed with BBC Micros on a network (I went to a reasonably posh private school). My career is based on something I have zero formal schooling in - just the proclivity to muck about with computers, and the opportunity to do so. Couple that with computers that are sufficiently primitive that you are *forced* to learn stuff about them just to get them to

      • by tehcyder (746570)
        I think the problem now is that kids will expect to be able to produce high quality programmes (and apps) almost immediately. Getting a two colour version of Pong on the screen isn't going to cut it with most of them.
      • by sarabob (544622)

        IMO the cool thing about the raspi is that you can just give one each to your kids. The laptop is still sufficiently expensive to be shared, and fixing it so the others can get to wikipedia for homework research is sufficiently annoying and time consuming to discourage too much messing about.

        I gave my 6-year-old his own account on my macbook; within a week he had magically managed to change some font anti-aliasing option that affected all users. Took me hours to fix, he now has a completely locked-down acco

  • hypercard (Score:2, Interesting)

    wherefore are thou?
    • by jc79 (1683494)

      Wherefore is not olde worlde speake for where. Wherefore is to therefore as where is to there.

  • Britain's schoolchildren have had compulsory ICT (information and communications technology) lessons for some time, but they are hated by staff and pupils alike

    My kids have no problem with ICT lessons, but I don't think they'd have any particular interest in programming classes. Knowing how to use Word, Excel and PowerPoint may not be Computer Science, but at least it's useful across all disciplines. Most children are NOT going to be computer programmers when they grow up, whatever the fantasies of government or geeks.

  • It's good that they are teaching programming in schools. What grade do they start? And what languages do they start w/, and how do they evolve those? Like Basic @ Grade ___. then Fortran @ Grade ___, C @ Grade ____?

    I actually think that there is a case for programming to have its own dedicated schools, just like dedicated disciplines such as music, and such institutions have different classes for different objectives and languages. Such schools should be primarily aimed @ kids who show an interest i
  • But here in the US, I just argued with a teacher who is apparently so fucking stupid that the concept of plugging a PI into a TV is still something just out of their grasp, never mind managing software that didnt come installed on their office max HP

    so programming? I sincerely hope the attitude over in the UK is much better, than it has been ever in the USA, as every single teacher I have ever dealt with in the sub college level is damn near retarded with technology of any form, from tape decks to pc's dumb

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