Thursday, March 15, 2012

TESS - Get With The Program

There's a great four page feature on Computing in schools in last week's Times Educational Supplement (Scotland). It's titled "Get with the program".

277/366: Drag and drop by DavidDMuir
277/366: Drag and drop,
a photo by DavidDMuir on Flickr.
It starts, inevitably, with the Raspberry Pi (see Raspberry Pi - Further comment if you don't know what this is) and then gives a quick summary of what is happening in England. It talks about a report from the Royal Society (which I want to say more about in future post) but then moves onto the state of play in Scotland:
"So where does that leave Scotland? Most experts argue that Scotland’s delivery of computing science has been superior to that of England for some time - but that it too needs to raise its game."
-- Time Educational Supplement Scotland, 9 March 2012
It's a good article - by which I mean it says a lot of the things that I've been saying for years. :-) For example, it quotes Scotland's chief science advisor as saying she wants, "schools to treat computing science on a par with physics, chemistry and biology." Brilliant!

Other good stuff includes a brief description of Computational Thinking (which some people think should form the basis of Computing courses), a section on National Qualification Group Awards featuring Kate Farrell and a plug for Computing At School - Scotland.

It doesn't say anything that I haven't heard from fellow Computing specialists before but it packages together statistics, ideas, links and discussion points and brings them all to a wider educational community.

Lots to think about and lots to discuss. If you haven't read it already, check it out now and let me know what you think we should talk about first.


Mosher said...

I wholeheartedly agree that Computing should be being treated more seriously and as a science, not as a hands-on ICT course. The merging of Computing with InfoSys from next year should help this as it ditches a lot of the ICT-ness in favour of a course that more closely mimics a university degree.

I was looking at job adverts recently and the High School of Glasgow proclaimed that they had an excellent uptake for Int 2 Computing in S3... with 17 pupils out of a senior school roll of 600. Seriously? That's what counts as an excellent uptake these days?

Even at Portobello with its 1200 roll and 70 pupils signing up for the course last year (a record breaker for them) it's still a subject dwarfed by the (other) sciences.

Computing *is* a science, it's just not been treated as such for years. It's also a subject that's starting to stagnate - university applications are down - and I think it's a matter of familiarity breeding contempt. IT is such a part of our lives now that people take it for granted and think they know it all already.

What they need to realise is that it's the clever people behind the scenes with those very degrees behind them that have made this exciting technology available to so many people.

As I said, I think the new N4/N5 courses will help appeal to the genuinely "computing adept" and create a new wave of genuine computer scientists. All we need to do now is convince kids to take the subject. Where I teach, we're lumped in with Business and Accounting (not an uncommon dept/faculty) but we're really unrelated. We also clash with too many other subjects and the HT seems to favour the social sciences and drama over Computing!

It's taken until this academic year for S2 to receive *any* Computing time at all, and only half the year at that. It's an uphill struggle - you can't interest pupils in a subject if they're not exposed to it.

Of course, so many other subjects will voice the same complaint. However, Computing is by far the best and most rewarding ;)

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