There is a growing consensus that the way children in schools are being taught information technology is in need of a radical overhaul. Here John Naughton explains the problem and offers a manifesto for revolutionary action.
A vigorous debate has begun – within government and elsewhere – about what should be done about information and communication technology (ICT) in the school curriculum. Various bodies – the Royal Society, the Association for Learning Technology, Computing at School (a grassroots organisation of concerned teachers) and the British Computer Society, to name just four – have published reports and discussion documents aimed at ministers and the Department for Education. Michael Gove, the education secretary, made an enigmatic speech at the recent BETT technology conference indicating that a rethink is under way in the bowels of Whitehall. Meanwhile, in another part of the forest, there are some astonishing developments happening – such as the fact that more than a million people have already placed orders for Raspberry Pi, the cheap, credit-card-sized computer developed by Cambridge geeks, which began shipping last week.
So something's happening: there's a sense of tectonic plates shifting. But as with most big policy debates, there's a lot of axe-grinding, lobbying and special pleading going on. Universities want to reverse the decline in applicants for computer science courses. Gaming companies want more programmers. The government wants more high-tech start-ups. Manufacturers want trainees who can design embedded systems. And head teachers want bigger budgets for even more computer labs. And so on.
What's missing from all this is a big vision. So here's my shot at one:
Starting in primary school, children from all backgrounds and every part of the UK should have the opportunity to: learn some of the key ideas of computer science; understand computational thinking; learn to program; and have the opportunity to progress to the next level of excellence in these activities.
Source: The Guardian
Read more: http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2012/mar/31/why-kids-should-be-taught-code
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