Teaching ICT, not educating in Office tools

Update 30/8/11: Fixed formatting issues on page

"He said he had been flabbergasted to learn that computer science was not taught as standard in UK schools, despite what he called the "fabulous initiative" in the 1980s when the BBC not only broadcast programmes for children about coding, but shipped over a million BBC Micro computers into schools and homes."Your IT curriculum focuses on teaching how to use software, but gives no insight into how it's made. That is just throwing away your great computing heritage," he said."

As taken from BBC article from a recent talk by Google Chairman, Eric Schmidt.




"But, more importantly, the curriculum is disabling rather than enabling for most kids, because it is preparing them for a technological world that is vanishing before their eyes. Training children to use Microsoft Office is the contemporary equivalent of the touch-typing courses that secretarial colleges used to run for girls in the 1940s and 1950s – useful for a limited role in the workplace, perhaps, but not much good for life in the modern world.
The worse thing about the ICT curriculum, however, is its implicit assumption about our relationship to the technology. "Look," it says seductively, "using a computer is like driving a car: you don't need to know how the thing works – you just need to know how to drive it."
Of course, this is, broadly speaking, true for cars, because few of us are going to go into the car-making (or even car-repairing) business. But computers are not like cars. They are machines driven by software, and software is pure "thought-stuff", in other words, something that is accessible to anyone with the requisite curiosity, intelligence and talent. So while teenagers might not be able to make cars, they can certainly get into the software business, because the entry barrier is so low. All you need is imagination, talent, time and persistence. But it really helps if you're schooled in an environment that encourages tinkering and experimentation, rather than one which just preaches utilitarian use of information appliances with "no user-serviceable parts", as the saying goes."
As from an article on the Guardian about 'Kids needing a license to tinker', sourced from @philwheeler1




One of the highlights of teaching ICT is getting the opportunity to teach and educate pupils on computers, those tools that are living, breathing parts of almost everyone's daily workflows, whatever their career nowadays. But one of the disadvantages and most common looks of shock I got throughout the year was when I showed a pupil a piece of raw HTML code, or even basic Java. The look of shock on their faces that this was how a computer actually worked never ceased to amaze me - this was the first time they'd ever seen this type of thing. Even more incredibly, 99% of them almost looked as if they'd never even considered how the fancy graphics appeared on their mobile-phone/console/tablet/computer. Are we missing out on something major here? I think so.....

The solution, I think personally, (other than a change in the curriculum) revolves around ensuring that the teachers are comfortable to work with this type of code. This will obviously required either training, or giving teachers adequate time to self-learn amongst each other (something similar to what I saw in Spanish International Schools - a two week block of time before the pupils arrive in school at the beginning of the school year to learn and develop new skills). Am I wrong here?

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