back to article Object to #YearOfCode? You're a misogynist and a snob, says the BBC

Critics of the Government's "Year of Code" scheme are misogynists or snobs, according to the BBC's tech correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones. Rory's frustration is that while billions of pounds are splurged on IT, children are passively taught PowerPoint procedures. That's the limit of the state's ambitions for children. This a …

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    1. Trainee grumpy old ****
      Thumb Up

      Re: We don't have anyone competent to do that

      > no law would ever yet have been finalized by Parliament. They'd all still be in perpetual debug mode.

      Given some legislation and some attempted legislation in the not so dim and distant past that possibly would be no bad thing.

  1. Eradicate all BB entrants

    The BBC never ....

    ..... listens to the populace as they are to busy trying to decide what we should think.

    Yes its a good idea, just introduce coding as part of the ICT structure in order to help them understand the relationship in regards to the whole IT stack, but not just because we need coders so therefore we need to train everyone in it.

    It's like trying to rebuild the motor manufacturing industry by training all school kids how to remap an ECU.

  2. OldPalmFan
    FAIL

    Another IT fad?

    Sorry but the Year of Coding has got me so worked up that I have to comment somewhere....

    Where to start.....

    I see lots of people in business who still use Word as an electronic typewriter with the added benefit of a spell checker.

    Excel? It adds columns of numbers doesn't it?

    My point here is that many people in business do not know how to use the basic tools that have been around now for many years. Or to put it another way, the level of IT literacy in many workers is still far too low.

    ICT in schools? My wife is a teacher in a Children's Centre. They have been waiting for months to get an internet connection into the classroom. They have iPads that might as well have stayed in their boxes because no-one thought about the need for iTunes to be installed onto PCs. The laptop that drives the whiteboard no longer boots and they cannot get anyone to fix it. Point? That some schools still need some of the IT basics in place and working.

    Year of Coding? Reminds me of the numeracy and literacy hour. My daughter was at school during that fad. Almost put her off maths and reading, and certainly put many of her friends off maths and reading.

    Speaking of maths, are not some of the most (be careful here...) proficient programmers either mathematicians or Physicists? Think Bletchley and the people there where computing was 'invented' and of course Tim Berners-Lee has a 1st class Physics degree. So if we want to develop good programmers then should we not start by putting more emphasis on maths and Physics in schools, and the coding can come later?

    OK, disjointed rant over. I'm sure that raising the profile if IT is a good thing, that some children might get enthused about coding and that the debate about what should be taught in schools when it comes to IT is definitely a good thing. However it seems to me that the debate has become reduced to a simple mantra - teach everyone to code - and that all our IT skills issues will be solved.

    No, they won't. It might put more people off IT than become the coders we need. And there is more to IT - so much more - than coding.

    Disclosure : I am an IT professional, I have a Physics degree, I don't code and I don't want to.

  3. Tim Worstal

    Haven't these people heard of the division and specialisation of labour?

    We no more want everyone to be able to code than we do want everyone to know how to fly a plane or build a house.

    There are some skills that we'd like pretty much everyone to have, yes. Literacy, numeracy, cooking, drive a car, these sorts of things. But coding just isn't one of them.

    To be able to *use* a computer, sure. But not to program one.

    In this gap in the timetable they could start teaching kids some economics. But then I would say that of course.,,,,

    True story: Roy Hattersley, who was at one time Sec of State for Prices, and at another Shadow Chancellor, was 80 years old before he found out that Adam Smith had written not only Wealth of Nations but also A Theory of Moral Sentiments. At least we could try getting the people who attempt to run the country up to speed on the basics of economics, no?

    1. dogged

      Re: Haven't these people heard of the division and specialisation of labour?

      > We no more want everyone to be able to code than we do want everyone to know how to fly a plane or build a house.

      I don't mean to speak for you here, but surely we don't mind if everyone wants to know how to fly a plane and build a house and are prepared to learn on their own time?

      I mean, it's not a bad thing. Is it?

      1. Tim Worstal

        Re: Haven't these people heard of the division and specialisation of labour?

        Sure, I was talking about what it was compulsory for children to be taught, not what people might want to learn on their own.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A lesson more valuable than learning the difference between a do while and a while do

    The most valuable lesson when it comes is:

    1. People are morons.

    The most frustrating part of my work is spending three months trying to get a meeting with a team only to have them stare at me blankly because they haven't given any thought to the program they are going to need in three months to do some task I have no knowledge of and they are supposed to explain to me in sufficient detail to write something useful. So instead of six months of rapid prototyping with user feed back, I end up crashing developing something in a month and hope some one senior enough puts their foot down and tells them they have to push a button on a website to kick the process off instead of emailing us to do it for them.

  5. Snake Plissken

    Very good joke

    "It's exceedingly rare for the BBC not to kick a Tory when he's down, or to rush to defend a Tory cock-up."

    Aha aha aha haaaa. Very good. Very funny.

    Oh heck, you weren't serious were you?

  6. Fenton

    At least give the kids some idea what "coding" is

    At least they won't then come out with the crap that coding can be taught in an hour.

    Modern coding is hard, especially for old gits like me, who grew up on BBC basic, Pascal and Fortran. I've just had to re-learn (just some visual basic and SQLserver), half the problem is finding out what is possible and already done for you, compared to having to do everything yourself like in the old days.

    So by all means show kids some programming, they might get an appreciation of the work that goes into their favourite App/Game.

    Also why not show kids something about electronics as well, alas another skill that is dying.

    Show them what is out there, let them decide what they want to learn

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Usual nonsense

    Lets turn what could be a genuinely cheap (free mobile & dev toolkits etc) exercise into a massively bloated PR laden wankfest, in which (as usual) a handful of individuals then milk the public purse for vast sums of cash, deliver approximately 7 tenths of bugger all and then f**k off into the sunset leaving a trail of unfinished crap behind them.

    .....which unfortunately is exactly what has also happened with every major Government IT initiative (Labour and ConDem) over the last 10 years or so.

    When will the get somebody who can make the piss up and brewery finally collide in an orgy of drunkness.

  8. Eponymous Cowherd
    Facepalm

    RCJ misses the point, again.

    But that isn't surprising considering his own ineptitude with regards to IT.

    The biggest problem with ICT in schools isn't that they don't teach coding. That's like saying the biggest problem with a music course is they don't teach the guitar..

    The problem with ICT teaching is they aren't teaching IT. At all. RCJ is correct when he says its mostly all Powerpoint, Excel and Word, but there is nothing inherently wrong with teaching those if the course was "Office Skills".

    ICT should, at GCSE level, be giving kids who take the subject a broad grounding in Computer Science, and that includes the basics of computer hardware, operating systems, networking, and software engineering (note: NOT just "coding").

    Perhaps the real problem is with the name. ICT. Information and Communication Technology. It doesn't match with what is being taught. Its like driving lessons being called something like "Automotive and Vehicle Technology".

    And as to Andrew's assertion that all the coding jobs will be going offshore? Offshoring is all well and good when things are going OK, but when things start going wrong the language barriers, cultural differences and time zone differences make resolving the problem much harder. And from experience things go wrong at least as often when offshored, if not more so. You often end up with as many local software engineers (usually expensive contractors) as you would have needed for the entire project to manage an offshore project with even minor problems.

    To finish, a personal gripe. Its that "C". Why add the C to IT? Information implies communication because information that isn't communicated isn't information at all. The "C" is redundant.

    1. Mike Taylor

      Re: RCJ misses the point, again.

      I'm not at all sure that GCSE is all about coding - my son is just looking at it, there's plenty of other stuff in there. Although they do hang it off a coding project, it's not 100% code. And neither should it be, for sure.

    2. Random Handle

      Re: RCJ misses the point, again.

      >Why add the C to IT? Information implies communication

      Stevenson - another self-confessed technical illiterate who was charged with fixing what was IT in schools until the late 1990s....largely forgotten here, but they have statues of him all over Bangalore (probably).

    3. Spamfast
      Alert

      Re: RCJ misses the point, again.

      "The "C" is redundant."

      And yet after twenty-nine years I'm still using it to write code for everything from PIC micros to multi-core servers. (Sorry, couldn't resist.)

      Seriously, I just get depressed when I hear the political/business high-ups banging on about school education's purpose being to equip children for work. School is supposed to equip children for LIFE, not just work. As has been mentioned by others, school should be providing basic life skills, exposure to the various options for adult employment & most importantly the ability to reason & learn for oneself. I am especially sick of the likes of the CBI who just want the taxpayer to fund the staff training they used to pay for out of company funds so as to make even more profits. (Along with "Don't tax our profits. Oh, but subsidise our loses, of course.")

      * ageing leftie exits stage left, rant, rant, mutter, mutter *

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh really?

    > that "learning to code" immediately, and magically, gives a child an understanding of how computers

    > or networks work

    Looking at some of the festering piles the devs at my orkplace produce would rapidly disabuse them of that notion..

  10. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Coming down the pipes line like a runaway express bullet train and ...

    intangible to avoid phish phorming*

    Of course, this consultant class may actually be rearing a Dalek, nurtured on "computational education", which in 20 years' time will have achieved sentience and may be coming at us with hostile intent - and terrifying new weapons, the likes of which humanity has never seen. But realistically, looking around the social media consultants and digital whizzes at the BBC, I don't think this is a realistic prospect. …. Andrew Orlowski’s Bootstrapnote

    I would not disagree, Andrew , that it be most unlikely of the government lackey BBC but only a fool and tool of a similar ilk would deny and not fully expect it and something significantly better and constructively disruptive or catastrophically destructive of ….. well, let us just call it and them just for now, Free IT Enterprise AId Venturing Pioneers and Virtualisation Maestros.

    And if not snapped up and obscenely rewarded and ridiculously highly valued by the Wild Wacky West will the Erotic Exotic East lead the way in everything for everyone. And such be only quite perfectly natural whenever intelligence abhors a vacuum and stupefying inaction.

    *Application of the Federal Bureau of Investigation for an Order Requiring the Production of Tangible Things

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  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    superficial at best

    I saw an article recently regarding this which commented that coding was the new Mandarin. I think that is spot on.

    I see parents now having their kids go to Chinese classes, as though an hour or two a week is going to give them any real benefit. Having learned Chinese some years ago, I can say that it is probably going to do nothing other than make them disinterested. They're certainly not going to end up speaking Chinese, other than the odd word. Coding seems to be no different.

    Chinese, coding and such skills can only be learned by people who have an interest and a desire to learn, and so commit their own time to it because they enjoy it. It's not a bad thing to have these options presented to kids, and to ensure that those that are interested have the opportunity to get access to the right facilities. But to think that forcing kids to reach a certain basic level in these things is going to make any positive contribution to the economy is wishy washy nonsense.

    1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Re: superficial at best

      "I saw an article recently regarding this which commented that coding was the new Mandarin."

      Gakuen de nihongo wa deutsugo atarashi desu. ;)

    2. Tim Almond

      Re: superficial at best

      Complete waste of time, unless you are either a) interested or b) going on holiday

      The amount of time it takes to get to a level of fluency where you can use it in business is huge. It's why we have a small number of specialist translators, people who are good with languages, possibly raised in a bilingual home. And translators really aren't very expensive.

  14. JimmyPage
    Unhappy

    On a more general level ..

    this is the result of successive governments disdain for anything practical, and the society it has shaped.

    A couple of years ago, I attended a careers evening at my sons school. They had the 3 local universities give a presentation on "why you should consider University". The guy from Birmingham university tempted the kids with a girl who had left university in 2009, and by 2011 was earning £40,000 a year, in New York.

    What was her subject ? Nuclear physics. Medicine ? Engineering ? Would we see a cure from cancer ? A better mousetrap ?

    No, she had studied political economics, and was working for a ****ing bank.

    Meanwhile, Alan Turing, Tommy Flowers et al command an impressive "Who" from kids who know the life history of every big brother contestant, or X factor finalist.

    We need an icon for "I weep salt tears" :(

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Waste of time

    Personally, I enjoy coding but I can see that there's no long-term future in it.

    In the not-too-distant future all s/w will be written by AIs, which themselves will take the place of Operating Systems.

    At the most basic level, s/w could be developed by copying the method that got us here: Evolution. An AIOS could simply randomly mutate existing s/w at a binary level and then see if the s/w still works and then assess if there's any improvement. Very inefficient, of course, just like the real thing, except whereas evolution of life has taken a few billion years doing it in silicon would be considerably faster. The same basic process could be made more efficient by moving up a level to working with logic blocks instead of binary bits but in practice I suspect that directed mutation, as opposed to random mutation, would be even more efficient.

    For this to work though, it'll be necessary for the individual AIOSs to be able to communicate with each other, to compare and share results: Skynet anyone?

    Naturally, the big s/w houses won't be at all keen on the idea of being made redundant so when this eventually emerges from academia they'll be spreading a lot of FUD about it, and probably even pushing for legislation against it.

    Time scale: less than twenty years.

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      In the Wastes of Time is Cogito ergo sum, AIdDiamond Gem to Germinate Understanding

      and Advanced Consciousness

      Hi LeeE,

      Nice to talk with you. And I agree with your perception, or if you like and prefer, I find your perception agreeable. It is after all applied shared perception which provides reality its base metadataphysicality, methinks, ergo IT is.

      And with particular and peculiar regard to any attempt to compete against and/or oppose .....For this to work though, it'll be necessary for the individual AIOSs to be able to communicate with each other, to compare and share results: Skynet anyone?

      Naturally, the big s/w houses won't be at all keen on the idea of being made redundant so when this eventually emerges from academia they'll be spreading a lot of FUD about it, and probably even pushing for legislation against it. ........ what a monumental waste of valuable time in free space that would be.

      Seems like whoever is advising Renegade Barack Obama are more aware and quite rightly concerned about the powers that be now readily available for trading in CyberSpace Command and Control where there is nothing tangible to attack and destroy but where all Earthly assets are ....... well, arraigned and assigned says it all quite succinctly methinks. I refer of course to this phishing exercise and executive order wish list/hit list of targets ....... EXECUTIVE ORDER... IMPROVING CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE CYBERSECURITY

      And to inquire further as to the whom and for the what is the power being displayed and horse traded, will have one lined up against a Great Game Virtual Wall of China Firewall and information and intelligence one needs to know hardly anyone else knows, and it be worth an absolute fortune in rigged markets, which makes it, quite perversely and conversely, also extremely attractive and even addictive to a certain class of player/non-state state actor type.

    2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      In the Wastes of Time ..... is Cogito ergo sum, AIdDiamond Gem to Germinate Understanding

      and Advanced Consciousness

      Hi LeeE,

      Nice to talk with you. And I agree with your perception, or if you like and prefer, I find your perception agreeable. It is after all applied shared perception which provides reality its base metadataphysicality, methinks, ergo IT is.

      And with particular and peculiar regard to any attempt to compete against and/or oppose .....For this to work though, it'll be necessary for the individual AIOSs to be able to communicate with each other, to compare and share results: Skynet anyone?

      Naturally, the big s/w houses won't be at all keen on the idea of being made redundant so when this eventually emerges from academia they'll be spreading a lot of FUD about it, and probably even pushing for legislation against it. ........ what a monumental waste of valuable time in free space that would be.

      Seems like whoever is advising Renegade Barack Obama are more aware and quite rightly concerned about the powers that be now readily available for trading in CyberSpace Command and Control where there is nothing tangible to attack and destroy but where all Earthly assets are ....... well, arraigned and assigned says it all quite succinctly methinks. I refer of course to this phishing exercise and executive order wish list/hit list of targets ....... EXECUTIVE ORDER... IMPROVING CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE CYBERSECURITY

      And to inquire further as to the whom and for the what is the power being displayed and horse traded, will have one lined up against a Great Game Virtual Wall of China Firewall and information and intelligence one needs to know hardly anyone else knows, and it be worth an absolute fortune in rigged markets, which makes it, quite perversely and conversely, also extremely attractive and even addictive to a certain class of player/non-state state actor type.

  16. confusinglyso
    Childcatcher

    Preparation for September

    I have signed up for this course

    https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/teaching-computing-part-1

    to see what help grandchildren may need come September.

    It would be great to see what comments come from Register Regulars (or would Irregulars be the preferred name) if they care to view the course content.

    1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      Re: Preparation for September

      You're asking us? But we're all misogynists and snobs!

      Actually, I had a look at the link, and it was lacking in any detail, from what I could see.

  17. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    Yes, it's disgusting that 100% of school children aren't able to play the violin, and millions of pounds must be splurged on compulsory violin lessons, and anybody who complains is a misogynist and a snob.

  18. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    I was implementing some floating-point arithmetic over the summer. For that I absolutely utterly needed my 'O' level maths instruction in logarithms and exponents, and how you multiply by adding powers and - shock horror - why the bare bones of long multiplication works. That's not even touched in today's GCSEs. "Push the buttons and get the answers, and stop pestering the teacher."

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The difficulty with making 'coding' or 'programming' whatever that is, a mainstream educational subject that is taught to all pupils, is that teachers will end up only teaching to the lowest quartile of the class and only to the key stage requirements, this may put off the best and brightest as they then see programming as a boring subject that they spend most of the lesson looking out of the window during. Perhaps as when I (and probably most on here) was in school, allow those who want to, program and those those that don't, not.

  20. Simone

    What IS the problem!

    Looking at the stories about IT issues or failures often reveals that the IT project failed to gain the understanding between what the customer wanted and what was coded. In between these two steps is the design step that needs people on both sides of the contract to understand both the IT principles and the business processes. I often visit clients where the "office youngster" has "written" a spreadsheet for some office task, because they found themselves ahead of those that have not been taught, but has now moved on. It saves a lot of clerical effort but puts enormous holes in the process auditability, and no one knows how it works. We teach youngsters MS Office without the principles that need to be followed in IT.

    If more people in organisations understood IT principles enough so they can have meaningful discussion with an IT Consultant they have just hired, those IT projects could be designed better. The internet is full of projects that someone has started and dropped or is "rambling on" because there is not a good understanding of what it should do; these projects need design, management, leadership, documentation and testing, none of which need expert code writers.

    The Raspberry Pi Foundation have stated that the Pi is not for classrooms but for students; a subtle difference that suggests they would be better in after school clubs than in mainstream classes. Like science, engineering and languages some people won't see the point and just want the IT in their phone or games console to "just work". It is the others, who find them interesting or even fascinating, that we should be filtering out and encouraging, not for a life of programming, but for the other things that are important to business.

    This Year Of Code seems to be trying to muscle in on the success of the Pi, which has shown that some need exists; I just don't think it can be simplified to one topic. Look at documentation for the Pi, a lot of it is trivial or out of date and published to grab whatever money was there to get. This shows that the Year of Code will not be much different.

    I knew an IT manager, who spent a lot of time talking to business users, trying to get them to answer his question: "What you have asked me for is your solution; can you explain to me what the problem is so the IT department can find you the right solution"

  21. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    The problem is that when I hear the word "code" or any of its derivative terms I think of a few things, but none of the things I think of are "writing some HTML" - which is a noble and worthwhile thing to teach kids but isn't what will bring a new crop of software programmers to the table in the next working generation.

    Unfortunately, the pololiticians and these "consultants" seem to think coding a website by hand is somehow Deep Thought stuff.

    Thing is, for 90% of the stuff that needs to be done in your average IT shop, that Comp Sci degree isn't really necessary. Useful, but not essential if you are willing to consider a return to the apprenticing model of old-style engineering, where hands on skills came first and school qualifications were a desirable adjunct.

    Of course, that would necessitate a change of culture in the industry and a return to building a staff for the long term rather than the self-fulfilling expectation that the staff will go elsewhere to advance their careers.

    By 'eck.

  22. Katherine Bean
    Devil

    Project Management

    "This kind of activity teaches children lots of ITC skills that "coding for all" doesn't, and some of these are also things the UK isn't very good at - such as project management and customer support. (The latter we can't outsource fast enough, with dire results.) "

    I would suggest that one of the biggest problems in the UK is the lack of professionalism, particularly when you can have cheap. I know of people who with no training, no experience, no idea, pitched up one day and applied for jobs to become Project Managers. Eventually, with the right 'talk' they got jobs.

    If, on the other hand, those looking for PMs were to employ either permanently or on contract etc., people who did know what they were doing, had experience, did the courses and had qualifications, the management of projects would be much better.

    Pay for professionals and you get professionals!

    Those of us who know what we are doing, are professionals, etc., do not want to be part of the group of people who "are not very good".

    K

    1. dogged

      Re: Project Management

      I find this a stretch.

      How do YOU go about project managing a truly Agile project given that one of a decent implementation of Agile's effects is the increasing redundancy of project managers and their thrice-cursed Gantt charts?

      Probably much the same way any other PM does. Draw up meeting schedules and claim to be a scrum master or whatever. 95% of project management is make-work that the dev team lead should be doing. The other 10% is project office stuff and that's actually useful when you need a new pen.

      Project Management? Pay for professionals so that you get professional timewasting know-nothing bullshitters instead of those dreadful amateurs. Right?

      1. dogged
        Facepalm

        Re: Project Management

        Alright, 95% + 10%....

        Typing too fast, didn't spot it until the "Edit" time window was gone...

  23. xnfec

    Outsource Coding to India, China and Vietnam

    What makes you think they won't be able to innovate and manage cheaper than us too?

  24. Peter Prof Fox

    Wou'dn't it be wonderful if...

    Everyone was a Shakespearean actor

    100 metres winner

    Able to understand the difference between General and the other sort of relativirt?

    And so on.

    Yes.

    Now let's ask if say, Human Relationships, can be taught in five hours and what the benefit might be. Coding (in it's basic form) is a mechanical skill without any more value than train spotting. Immature people often end up as programmers but immature programming is neither software engineering nor application development.

    Like clocks go tick and cows go moo so programmers go WCPGW (What could possibly go wrong) To understand WCPGW you need maturity.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Problem solving and troubleshooting

    Problem solving and troubleshooting - those are the critical skills that programming teaches a child. The focus shouldn't be on the syntax or the tools used - those are just a means to the end - but the process of designing, of architecture, then reconciling actual outcome to expected outcome - that's invaluable.

    However, I have no opinion if these proposals will be effective or not. I'm US-based and have not been following the conversation closely. But the concept - that learning how to code is a worthwhile process, that can impact skills across the educational landscape - is in my experience correct.

    I taught computer science at a high school level in the US for several years - I saw the benefits of inducing this critical thinking first-hand. Learning to code would increase understanding and participation across many different subjects, not just math and science. It made my students better at thinking, for lack of a better term - more disciplined in approach, less fearful of technology they didn't understand, and provoked a deeper understanding of process and problem solving.

    There certainly were children who didn't have an innate talent, who struggled to understand the concepts - though interestingly, those children generally were the most passionate about coding once it "clicked." I'd love to see a *well-designed* universal coding curriculum across every school - again, not to teach practical coding ability, but because the process of learning how to code makes us better thinkers. IMHO. :)

  26. Jamie Jones Silver badge
    FAIL

    "Coding" a website in an hour?

    I'm certainly not an elitist snob, and welcome anything that can improve coding skills, but that's justnit : Improving skills.

    Ok, so in a short time, someone may be able to knock up a program or website that 'sort of' works, but they'll gave no understanding of how things actually work - it will be more tag-soup html, a return to 'geocities'-type sites, and as for coding: inefficient use of cpu or memory, or stability or security, bugger-flows and hack-vectors abound!

    Listen again to that Newsnight clip, and whenever the kiddies or adults say 'coding', substitute in the words 'plumbing', 'building', or 'wiring'.

    It basically sounds like encouraging cowboys

    1. Jamie Jones Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: "Coding" a website in an hour?

      "bugger-flows" was meant to read 'buffer overflows', obviously(!)

  27. Mike 137 Silver badge

    What really wrong with this

    The most obvious fatal error in this whole "cunning plan" is the assumption that "coding" should be the objective. Coding is merely the manipulative mechanical skill used to realise programming (an instance of intellectual and creative problem solving).

    If we just teach our kids "coding" we will finish up with echelons of unemployable incompetents, whereas teaching programming can result in expanding their mental capacities (just as chess or Latin do) for those with an appropriate mind set to start with, which should make life more interesting for them, quite apart from any direct benefit for employment as software developers. The undeniably abysmal quality of software today (monthly "patches" to fix silly mistakes, security breaches &c.) is a direct result of too many people already just learning to code rather than to program.

    The second, and equally egregious, error is the assumption that teachers can be taught to teach "coding" in "a day" (http://politicalscrapbook.net/2014/02/tory-boss-of-government-coding-education-initiative-cant-code-lottie-dexter/), or indeed any other short period without a preparatory grasp of both the first principles that underlie the technologies and a grounding in analytical and logical thinking.

    Oh dear, did I say "thinking" - how absurd...

  28. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Heavy MetaDataBase

    Thanks for the heads up on code that be indefensible and unbeatable, Andrew. That which is thought not fit to print and share whenever shared for printing is most probably a mkultrasensitive state secret to more than just a terrified few.

  29. Tim Almond

    Show Coding to Kids...

    ... and then leave it to the computer clubs.

    Not everyone has to understand code. It's an important part of business, but then, so is sales and not everyone is good at sales. Getting kids fired up who might not be would be useful.

    And no, I have no faith in YearOfCode. I did, but you can't have someone running it who doesn't understand it. History shows that managers can't just be enthusiastic amateurs in the subject.

  30. Cellar-dweller

    No wonder the UK is screwed!! Last one out, turn off the light.

    This whole thing is typical of the UK. Its driven by middle class public school boys who wanted to go into law/the city but couldn't cut it [and therefore washed up in politics], consultants that are unable to produce anything useful, or media types that think the i-pod is the biggest technological revolution mankind has seen [and can't cope with anything more taxing than changing their mobiles ring tone]. The whole thing is is another coat of slap on the face of a pox ridden whore of an education system.

    My four year old recently came home with a maths homework which included "estimate how many stairs are in your house and count them"...ans=57..WTF! What about basic arithmetic up to something manageable like 20. This is the problem, we are that busy doing stuff that's easy and palatable we are not thinking what we are going to do with it at the end of the process. Fine teach a 10yr old kid an application like powerpoint by spoon-feeding, but this type learning will be useless by the time they are 16. What's the point. Teach them skills that allow them to discover for themselves and teach them to think of applications as tools to do stuff not an end in themselves. We need curious people with a good mental tool kit, not a generation that fellates itself on how well they can use Microsofts latest release of office. Are our aspirations really that low..

    Anyway shouldn't the BBC/Government etc. be more concerned about how we creating an economy where all these developers have somewhere to go and something to do rather than sponsoring this sort of bull whilst our economic recovery is propelled by a state sponsored housing boom in the south east and shopping. Give the kids the tools, a little knowledge and something that interests them [blowing stuff up worked well for me when I was 11!] and they will do much better than spending their time in school being spoon fed and measured by these well meaning but highly deluded pr1ck$!

  31. streaky

    I've said it before many times - the key here isn't blasting code at kids, it's finding the ones who are naturally interested (not necessarily that they're good at heavy maths, we don't need that) via some sort of taste-based learning - and then nurture them, probably with some genuinely taxing, but fun, lesson structure.

    I've been through this country's education system recently *enough* to know what the issues are and now I'm a professional software developer. Probably the biggest single issue for me is that teachers don't get paid enough to attract people who know what they're doing to teaching short of the possibility that they just sold their faceback app to google for 43Bn and now want to give their time to the public good (which realistically isn't going to happen).

    It's true that all kids should be learning how computers work a bit more over just learning how to input data into excel (and how to deal with macs crashing every 30 seconds) like we did at school, but not all should be writing code.

    As for misogyny, I don't think there is anybody who doesn't want more women writing code (and thusly - in context - girls learning it like us boys did when we were kids) but the issue isn't the men who are doing it so much as the way girls are raised to like barbie and play with their Mattel cooking-related toys which sets them on the path to being housewives in the first place.

  32. disgruntled yank Silver badge

    A couple of points

    First, the BBC guy did not say that all objectors were snobs or misogynists. He did, in passing mention misogynistic comments on some posting or another, and I don't doubt he found them.

    Second, while I am sure that Ms. Mulqueeny knows exactly what she's talking about, I am equally sure that I don't. Could somebody post a translation for American readers?

    1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      Re: A couple of points

      "Second, while I am sure that Ms. Mulqueeny knows exactly what she's talking about, I am equally sure that I don't. Could somebody post a translation for American readers?"

      ... and for us brits too!

  33. ivan_llaisdy

    My fantasy curriculum

    Here are some ideas toward my fantasy curriculum, for late juniors (i.e., age 8ish to 11ish).

    I think intelligence (as in "what IQ tests measure") can be thought of as "pattern recognition" --- an always-on facility or habit of noticing patterns. The main force of an early curriculum should be to promote this habit by looking at and learning about patterns of different types. So, the central subjects will be maths, music and language.

    Maths: If the early juniors can establish basic numeracy (and literacy), then yes I think 7 or 8 is a good time for simple set theory. This will open up topics like functions as mappings between sets, type theory, and propositional logic (which is just set theory really). There is a lot of scope for fun lessons through quite challenging terrain.

    (as far as computer programming goes, 11 or 12 year olds with this background could be happily getting into scheme or haskell, and if senior schools are to teach programming generally, scheme is by far the best choice of language).

    Music: playing: explorations in tonality; listening: Haydn.

    Language: learning a foreign language is an exposure to another type of pattern. I don't think it matters much which language(s). French seems to be traditional in Britain, mostly I think because of the weather and the food (and wine) (oh and the culture of course); the language itself is probably quite difficult for first language English speakers (weird sounds and spelling, hideously complicated tense system, ...).

    In maths and music, and in English lessons, the children will also be learning rhetoric. Aristotle called rhetoric the art of making oneself understood. I think of rhetoric as mapping a logical structure onto spacetime: setting out a maths problem on a page; playing out a scale as a melody. This laying things out is another kind of pattern.

    Apart from music, this is pretty much the traditional trivium. The next most central layer would be sport (fitness, teams, athletics) and art/craft (splashing paint around, making things). Finally, "science" (lots of experiments, finding out what happens, explaining) and "humanities" (history, geography, general knowledge).

    Thanks

    Ivan

    p.s. I like that Maths is fun site too!

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