[LINK] Computing in Schools Report from The Royal Society

stephen at melbpc.org.au stephen at melbpc.org.au
Thu Feb 2 16:58:03 AEDT 2012

Kerry writes,

> I'd like to see a reasoned case for why more effort needs to be given
> to teaching Computer Science in schools.

As one involved in teaching and utilizing ICT in schools for many years
(from years seven to twelve) I think you might be quite surprized Kerry
at how few ICT skills are now routinely taught, at least in Vic schools. 

Expensive & limited school ICT resources are now frequently comandeered
by teachers wanting kids to utilize them for writing essays, and google
searching. And often, few Aussie teachers have skills beyond such usage.

> Is it because a better understanding of Computer Science allows people
> to function better in society, similar to the justification of teaching
> Chemistry or Physics? Or are we trying to address a shortage of skilled
> ICT workers in the community, by trying to enthuse schoolkids about
> Computer Science. Should we be teaching Nursing Science for the same
> reason? Kerry

Obviously and as Jan says, a qualified 'yes' to all of the above, Kerry.

However, many elements of society now want schools to 'push' particular
curriculum dear to their own hearts, from bike-ed to art-history and no
school could accomodate all of these areas. So, in one sense, given the
reasonably obvious importance for ICT skills, in virtually every future
life, priorities must be mandated. And believe it or not, there's still
some primary schools where teachers don't actively teach ANY ICT skills.

Recently, the UK has recognized this ICT situation, and, as Tom alludes
to, are intending to rectify it. Many .au teaching colleagues now agree
we need to be seriously extending and 'mandating' schools re ICT skills
and are pushing that the Aussie National Curriculum rectifies this. But
there's also a 'push-back' from other groups with other agendas for our
limited school class-time and our school resources. I guess we will see.

For the UK example ..

Kelly Fiveash. Posted in the Register Developer, 28th November 2011
<http://www.theregister.co.uk> (snip)

"IT and computer science in UK schools is in serious need of reform, the 
Minister Ed Vaizey said today, thereby indicating that changes to the
school curriculum were on the agenda. Vaizey's comments came following
recommendations laid out in the "Next Gen" report, commissioned by the
minister in July 2010, that was published earlier this year. Curriculum
and exam reforms are planned by the UK government to give pupils
a "genuinely rigorous grounding" in computer science skills, it said."

(Happily retired ICT teacher/psychologist after 34 years in Vic schools)

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