Power Steering For The Mind

Following on from ‘starting to code again‘, I spotted a thoughtful piece by John Naughton in The Observer yesterday on the (more general) topic of teaching computer science in UK schools.

His key points are (this is an edited and extracted version):

One – Jettison Some Baggage From The Past

As a result, educational thinking about the importance of computing and information technology in this country has been stunted for well over a decade. We’ve taken a technology that can provide “power steering for the mind” (as a noted metaphor puts it) and turned it into lessons for driving Microsoft Word.

Two – Teach Computer Science Not ICT

The idea that there’s a major body of knowledge in this field – complete with a stable and intellectually rigorous conceptual framework that is independent of today’s or yesterday’s gadgetry – is probably unfamiliar to residents of Whitehall, who think ICT is trivial because it’s always becoming obsolete.

Three – Yes, It Really Is That Important

There are actually far more important reasons (than purely economic ones) why our children should emerge from school with a deeper understanding of information technology and computational thinking than is the case at present. They are to do with citizenship and democracy.

The world our children will inherit is one that will be shaped and controlled not just by physical realities, such as climate change, but by computer software.

In the same section of the newspaper there’s also an interesting article on ‘how to write an app in just one day‘!


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