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Is lack of computer science teaching failing pupils?

Discussion in 'Computing and ICT' started by e-Luddite, Oct 12, 2011.

  1. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/newsnight/9612063.stm

    Computing in schools (or lack of it) - a report broadcast on Newsnight a couple of nights ago...
  2. http://www.nesta.org.uk/library/documents/NextGenv32.pdf ... in the same vein. Compelling reading.
  3. Captain Obvious

    Captain Obvious New commenter

    It needs to make a comeback - If understanding English language and Science, which underpins nearly everything, is important so should computing which underpins pretty much every task we take for granted.
    Stuff like Kodu (awesome :D ) and Scratch need to see the light of day more.
  4. madcat

    madcat Occasional commenter

    Could I just point out (again) that programming is not just the preserve of the IT dept
    Take a stroll through your site and look over there - hidden away behind the caretaker's hut - in the D&T area , oh yes and up there in the Physics/Electronics area
    Micro controller (PIC) programming is (or rather was) alive and well in both Systems and Control courses and Electronics
    Sadly it does seem to be fading away as centres are realising that - much as with computer science in the 1980s - very few students have the logical and mathematical thinking skills needed.
    And in a time of financial constraint, courses with low numbers simply won't run.

  5. The new gcse ict is awful and these controlled assessments are really switching pupils off permantly. Computing, on the other hand, is an outstanding subject. The KS4 puoils taking AS Computing rather than the turgid gcse ict are loving it at our school, where we do indeed teach it using a 'programming games' approach using Greenfoot. The sooner ict is buried and proper computing introduced as mainstream at ks4 the better.
  6. SageDerby

    SageDerby New commenter

    Why wait to year 7? Programming is being introduced in primary schools in some countries using programming environments such as Scratch.
    I remember seeing Logo taught to a year 6 class back in the 1980s! Those were the days - I don't think ICT existed them but Computing did.
  7. Back on my soapbox - CAS, CAS, CAS (that's Computing At School for those of you haven't seen me ranting yet). CAS website

    I've been in Cambridge the last two days with a variety of CAS people and others interested in supporting / promoting / pushing Computing in schools. One thing I am VERY much looking forward to is the Raspberry Pi. A self-contained computer for £20 that can run from a power cable or 4x AA batteries. HDMI/USB/composite video interfaces, Linux OS with Python, Scratch, etc. ready to go. User manuals to come shortly - the whole thing launches at the end of November for developers / hackers / etc. with a more polished version coming out in March.

    I've also just had a Y6/Y7 open evening and had more parents than ever asking what we are doing about 'proper' IT, programming, Computing, doing stuff other than Office. Excellent.

    The Hope/Livingstone report, the fact that Vaizey and Willets are onboard, the fact that CAS are already running CPD for teachers to support them in wanting to teach Computing and even a suggestion that A Level Maths will feature units in Pure Maths, Mechanics, Statistics, Decision and Computational Maths is all good. I'm more than happy for my DT department to do programming. I'm more than happy for our Science department to do programming. I'd be more than happy for our RS department to teach programming if they wanted to. What's there to argue about?
  8. Captain Obvious

    Captain Obvious New commenter

    There are never enough arguments in programming...[​IMG]
    My fear is that Gove is going all classical on us. While I don't see how they can remove ICT from the curriculum (or even leave it in its wishy-washy state), the pessimist in me sees us getting shafted for some 1950s idealism.
  9. rubikwizard

    rubikwizard New commenter

    Do you have a link for this? I used to teach A level maths and now teach A level Computing (and GCSE). I have not heard of this but find it very exciting (yes, I am a member of CAS but must have missed this one)
  10. That last one is very much anecdotal and there is nothing official happening as yet - but people in the right circles (and read into that what you will) are certainly thinking about it. Whether it would be a tweaking of Decision Maths or an entirely new unit remains to be seen and we're talking medium term at best. Still... food for thought, eh?
  11. I'm torn on this one. On the one hand, the removal of the National Curriculum means that we're all on a level playing field. It also means that we get to teach what we want, but we have to work to justify ourselves within our schools and the national picture will be less standardised.

    Balanced against that we now have dozens of pressure groups, all lobbying that *their* subject is critical to a curriculum that should be delivered to all students, and if we miss out while others get in then our position gets even worse.

    The Royal Society report on the state of Computing in schools is due out in January and this is a REALLY GOOD opportunity to push things. Gove is, I suspect, not long for the role of education minister anyway. The momentum is improving and the Newsnight report, etc. are showing that while ICT is a damaged subject, the core things that I have always wanted to teach (computational thinking, programming, problem solving, computer architecture) are critical to industry and critical to our future success in the technology market. What we need to do now is continue to show that we want things to improve and we want to deliver the kind of learning that students really need. This on top of some of the more 'digital literacy' type skills that are really important, but that aren't enough on their own.

  12. As has been said so many times - these are not as critical as Excel, Word and even, God forgive me, PowerPoint. Sad but true.
    Are we still in any markets?
  13. Captain Obvious

    Captain Obvious New commenter

    That's the path I'd like to see the subject take. It's all about exposure and opportunity - if we never really show kids what computers are capable of in the guise of Computing/Computer Science, chances are we'll lose them to another sector or career as they have written off computers as nothing more than a tool to be used (in the guise of MS Office).
    If we give them the opportunity to do programming, even simple visual stuff (which is my level [​IMG]), then we'll grab hold of those who want to know more and at the very least taught those that aren't interested some reasonably useful sequencing and thinking skills.
    Even one unit a year is enough, and if you're being really clever it can be easily be embedded amongst more mundane software like publisher for manuals, packaging and advertising for some project-based/independent learning (which is very much the way I like to do things if possible).
  14. autismuk

    autismuk New commenter

    These are 'critical' ? Anyone with half a brain can figure these things out with a bit of playing.
    It's not so much the programming skills themselves as the thinking skills that accompany them.

  15. Captain Obvious

    Captain Obvious New commenter

    I'm not so sure. I've seen several terrible presentations from senior management over the years.
    You want me to read that much text from this far away? Where are my binoculars?!?
    I've even seen data managers mess up a spreadsheet to calculate a percentage from year to year (what's that, pre-GCSE maths?) with the most bizarre formula I've ever seen...so bizarre I had to look up what the function he was using actually did.
    Office software is easy to use. It's also even easier to use badly.

  16. autismuk

    autismuk New commenter

    True, but how many ICT teachers teach beyond the mechanics of Powerpoint etc. to useful things like producing a readable document ? Not many I think.
    I don't think the how to is a problem.

  17. Captain Obvious

    Captain Obvious New commenter

    Possibly an unanswerable question. But I'd like to think a good chunk have at least some understanding of text size and colour if nothing else...and hopefully beyond that.
    But I have had classes (well, one) come to me this year with presentation coursework with far too much text in...that the teacher had said was fine (revealed after my "That's too much text..." comments).
    (I know how to make a decent presentation and I've never had an ICT lesson in my life...how hard can it be?)
  18. In a nutshell we have the problem and solution of ICT. ICT is too many things to too many people. There needs to be clear lines and paths in the jumble sale of ICT. it all has to be split up at KS4 with clear routes and qualifications.
    we have the ICT that gives the skills for a future generation of creatives - the graphic and product designers, the animators.
    we have the technical ICT for the next generation of computer scientists, software engineers and network engineers.
    we have the "office" and "office solution" based ICT for the next generation in business and management.
    "ICT" as a generic 'I'm digital savvy' qualification is a nonsense and serves no good purpose. As for KS3 ICT scrap that - a mish-mash waste of time on whole (except where it would provide good foundations to the three options above).
    so going back to the original point, I'd argue that a lack of computer science isn't damaging pupils as such. it can only be a choice amonst others rather than a compulsory requirement
    (i say that anyone who thinks ALL students should study programming in KS4 is absolutely BARKING mad and shouldn't be in charge of deciding an education for anyone).
  19. Woof! ;-)
  20. When I teach beyond the mechanics I inevitably draw flack from other departments.
    "How dare you tell them not to use many different effects - surely they should be showing off skills"
    "Why are you asking them not to read every word from the screen? That is what you are supposed to do"
    "What is wrong with silly little bouncing animations that amuse the audience, in every slide."
    And the one that really annoys me:
    "How dare you tell them you cannot read Comic Sans."

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