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Are we all suddenly too obsessed with programming?

Discussion in 'Computing and ICT' started by BarryRiley, Jan 11, 2012.

  1. BarryRiley

    BarryRiley New commenter

    Programming really is a buzz word ever since the take off of Apple's mobile devices and the follow-up of other companies entering the Android market. It's now such a buzz word that the government have decided that it's officially the future of the industry and is far more important to the average student than anything else in the current curriculum. Obviously, due to our love of programming (well a lot of us anyway) many teachers have been happy to jump on the bandwagon, eager to pass on their passion of Java to their students without stepping out of line with what we're meant to teach.

    However, is it really a good idea to denounce the rest of the curriculum in favour of programming - currently in the top ten favourite things of people who don't really know what it is and don't know how to do it?

    I love programming probably more than most on here, and am ashamed to say that learning programming languages is a passion of mine, but I'm not going to suggest that the key skill that will be required in the future job market is programming, because it won't.

    Love them or hate them, office ICT skills are a principle component of the large majority of workplaces. The average worker isn't going to be required to create their company's iPad app but they might just need to create a spreadsheet which automates a graph.

    So, is programming just a bandwagon buzz-word at the moment? Will it soon go back to being the passion of hunched-over, spectacled, social-delinquents as soon as the wonder of smart-phones and tablets dies down or do you genuinely think, proper programming has a place, and the time to be taught in school?
     
  2. BarryRiley

    BarryRiley New commenter

    Programming really is a buzz word ever since the take off of Apple's mobile devices and the follow-up of other companies entering the Android market. It's now such a buzz word that the government have decided that it's officially the future of the industry and is far more important to the average student than anything else in the current curriculum. Obviously, due to our love of programming (well a lot of us anyway) many teachers have been happy to jump on the bandwagon, eager to pass on their passion of Java to their students without stepping out of line with what we're meant to teach.

    However, is it really a good idea to denounce the rest of the curriculum in favour of programming - currently in the top ten favourite things of people who don't really know what it is and don't know how to do it?

    I love programming probably more than most on here, and am ashamed to say that learning programming languages is a passion of mine, but I'm not going to suggest that the key skill that will be required in the future job market is programming, because it won't.

    Love them or hate them, office ICT skills are a principle component of the large majority of workplaces. The average worker isn't going to be required to create their company's iPad app but they might just need to create a spreadsheet which automates a graph.

    So, is programming just a bandwagon buzz-word at the moment? Will it soon go back to being the passion of hunched-over, spectacled, social-delinquents as soon as the wonder of smart-phones and tablets dies down or do you genuinely think, proper programming has a place, and the time to be taught in school?
     
  3. Firstly, if you require knowledge of a software package in a workplace, then you will be able to pick it up by using it - anyone my age (28) or older did because we weren't taught it at school, yet millions of these people go to work and use office software - because it is designed to be intuitive. The same is not true of programming.
    Secondly, I see programming as a prerequisite to study of Computer Science - it certainly isn't all there is to it - in fact it was assumed knowlege in my degree and not taught. We should teach it at school alogside other essential skills in Computing such as algorithm design. If following or making a set of instructions isn't key life skill, then what is!
     
  4. BarryRiley

    BarryRiley New commenter

    To a certain extent it is yes, but there are some things you won't just pick up by working with the software. Someone who is able to manipulate the software to increase productivity or ease of use for his fellow colleagues will shine in some office situations. You won't just pick up how to create IF statements and conditional formatting by using Excel in an office environment but knowing how to do these things, when the guy next to you does not could get you noticed in an entry-level position or small company.
     
  5. Captain Obvious

    Captain Obvious New commenter

    So what you're saying is that there are many ICT teachers who are revolutionary optimistics (or maybe optimistic revolutionaries) who aren't willing to accept that the truth of any changes is likely to be much more prosaic than they're hoping for?
     
  6. I'm seeing it as more of an attempt to get our kids doing something.

    The vast majority of students are going to college having been told exactly what to do to get an OCR National. they lose the ability to be creative, think for themselves, be logical, to test.

    It looks like we're finally going to let kids to be kids again, with no fear of failure. If programming is the vehicle to do it, so be it.
     
  7. BarryRiley

    BarryRiley New commenter

    Although I love programming, I wouldn't be too optimistic about it being the centre of the subject in secondary school. I think a lot of ICT teachers equate 'the things I'm interested in and love teaching' with 'the things children would love and are important to the curriculum".
     
  8. I look foward to three main things that I can see coming out of this.
    1) More kids will be exposed to programming, and getting computers to do interesting things. This will lead to some doing it in their own time, who would otherwise not have done, and these are the ones who wil end up taking on a job that require these skills and contibute to the economy like the government wants.
    2) People like my partner, who had no idea or interest as a child that she would need to program (in R) for her job as an environmental scientist, having being exposed to it before hand so has a shallow learning curve and can program efficiently. (At the moment she cuts and pastes code rather than using a function)
    3) Lower ability kids can do something more fun than learning office software.

    As a side, learning ideas like logic and algorithms is directly transferable into real life.
     
  9. JaquesJaquesLiverot

    JaquesJaquesLiverot Established commenter

    Hmm... for some reason my post appeared twice - please see below!
     
  10. JaquesJaquesLiverot

    JaquesJaquesLiverot Established commenter

    I haven't read the proposals in detail, but all the talk I've heard on the news is of "computing" or "computer science", and not just programming. Indeed, only a small proportion of a computing course would be programming.
    For me, it just indicates a shift in emphasis from just blindly using things, to thinking about how things work and why we use them.
    There used to be a more technical approach in ICT - 10 years ago, I was discussing with students why web-sites use jpegs or GIFs, rather than BMP images, and why you shouldn't use Marquee tags or Comic Sans - that sort of thing has gone.
    There are protocols to think about - we used to tell students how e-mail worked, and how messages were stored and fetched from their Inbox to their PC, and you could tell them how pages are fetched from the worldwide web or how messages are routed. You could tell them about IP addresses, encourage them to use the terms "upload" and "download" correctly, think about how things are sorted, how messages are secured, etc... the list goes on.
    So, yes - there does appear to be too much emphasis on programming, and not enough discussion of other aspects of computing.
     

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