Thursday, January 12, 2012

Teaching children to use computers

Education Secretary Michael Gove has decided to replace the current ICT curriculum with a radically revised programme which puts much more emphasis on developing applications and using computers in original ways rather than simply using interfaces developed by others.

He suggested that the existing curriculum is a "mess" which is "demotivating and dull" and threatens to harm Britain's long term economic prospects.

Gove will begin a consultation next week on the new computing curriculum and on how we can train young people "to work at the forefront of technological change".

I don't generally regard scrapping an entire setup and starting again from scratch as the best solution, but there seems to have been an argument for doing so this time. ICT teachers and experts quoted by the press, while recognising that finding the skilled teachers to deliver the new curriculum might be "challenging" seemed to be more positive than not about the proposals.

Examples of quotes given to the BBC by ICT teachers attending an educational technology show in London included the following:

Sue Le Bas, from Boxgrove Primary in London, said: "I think this would be exciting for primary pupils but I would need a crash course to be able to do it.

"I think we could develop the skills. We need to prepare our children for the future and the current curriculum is not doing that. It's 15 years old."


Anthony Latham, from Heronsgate Primary, also in London, said: "Anything which makes learning more accessible is a positive thing.

"I am not always Gove's biggest fan but I agree with this. Too many ICT lessons are dull."


Graham Fee, a maths teacher at Hemsworth Arts and Community College in Wakefield, already teaches programming at an after-school computer club.

"Students are interested as I do a lot of computer programming myself. I produce a lot of maths games.

"ICT lessons seem to do a lot of PowerPoint and Word, but students are more motivated by more interactive things like programming.

"There's a lot of logical thinking involved. It's good for the students' thinking skills.


"If they have a vision of what they want to create, a little game or something, they can see how the maths applies to the game."


Mr Fee thinks that some of the software packages already available from companies like Microsoft will help train less specialised ICT teachers to teach programming.

"The new software out there is less focused on programming language and more on the logical thinking behind it," he said.

"Teachers will see this as an opportunity to move beyond the office skills - of course, many teachers have been doing this for some time” said Miles Berry of NAACE.

1 comment:

Tim said...

This revamp may be the right thing to do - it won't count for anything though if British companies are allowed to get away with outsourcing IT jobs to India by bending the rules on intra company transfer visas.