back to article Australia's Digital Technologies curriculum finally signed off

Last Friday, Australia signed off on the nation's Digital Technologies curriculum, the first effort to teach computational thinking from infants' school to late High School. But the signoff is hollow because the content of the curriculum is hidden and a further review of technology education has been announced. The rubber …

  1. Charles Manning

    Yet another money pit

    All that schools can effectively teach are the skills needed to be digital consumers. Word processing, blogging, and maybe some useful stuff like how to do back ups and some basic security.

    Trying to teach programming etc through schools is a huge waste.

    First off, teachers just are not up to it. Very few are even able to be trained to be any good at it. All they're going to teach are some bad habits and maybe give people a completely unreasonable view of what the industry is about.

    Secondly, this is just politicains doing what they do best. Directing wads of money and measuring themselves by what they spend and not by results. "Vote us: We spent $nbillion on computer education."

    Thirdly, only a small % (way less than 10% - I'd say even less than 2%) of people are really cut out to be effective programmers etc. Any cookie cutter program a school can deliver will likely have to be dumbed down to oblivion to be accessible to the 90-98%. The 2-10% that really need something will not get anything useful out of this.

    The basic skills that programmers/engineers need can be developed without expenditure on computers and retraining. The major skills are:

    * Design: Logically breaking a problem into sub-problems to be able to tackle them.

    * Exploring why things didn't work and coming up with alternative solutions (ie. debugging/refinement).

    Those skills can be learned building stuff out of Lego.

    Or, if you really want to use a computer, then play some Castle Mouse ( or minecraft in construction mode.

    If you have school age kids that want to get into programming and lack the skills to teach them yourself, then find a mentor. If you can't find someone through your social circles, then approach a company, robotics club or such. Skilled people tend to be very keen to pass on their skills and mentor people who are keen.

    1. GrumpyOldBloke

      Re: Yet another money pit

      Can't argue with any of your points Charles but a modern public servant only has two roles: 1) create artificial scarcity to justifying pricing and process 2) be seen to be doing something to justify existence. In the public sector it is always safer to proceed on the assumption that the lobbyists are right than to risk blame in a forewarned scenario. The digital curriculum will be a function of these processes, the artificial scarcity of learning resources in a curriculum crowded by all the other lobbyists against the need to be seen to be doing something.

      It might prick the interest of the kids like mazes and crosswords do but will probably peter out with insufficient time to explore fuller more practical applications of the dark arts. By then there will be a new lobbyist and a new urgent need for the education system to address. If the child, against the odds, progresses many more parents will be focussed on ATAR scores for their budding doctor / lawyer / engineer / accountant than the redundant by 35 IT specialist and IT will be dropped for more practical or traditional subjects.

      The problem of IT engagement has been created by the public sector; encouraging outsourcing, contract preferences to large multinationals, 457's, tax structures, TBL gender quotas, etc. It will not be solved by the public sector and per your points above we should not be looking to them for solutions. Unfortunately it will be a while, many failures and many $B's before they can safely drop it.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      Re: Yet another money pit

      Trying to teach programming etc through schools is a huge waste.

      First off, teachers just are not up to it.

      Utter bollocks. By your logic we wouldn't shouldn't teach science because no teacher is up to being a brain surgeon.

      1. GrumpyOldBloke

        Re: Yet another money pit

        Check out the statistics for declining participation by Australian school kids in hard maths and science (STEM) courses at high school and university. Perhaps also consider those kids struggling with basic numeracy and literacy skills. This is not just about the teachers (though they are a problem as are gender imbalances in the industry that may be influencing STEM decisions in children), this is about a perverse range of disincentives though our social, educational, financial and political structures - houses, holes and cheap foreign labour - that steer kids towards oversubscribed and unproductive outcomes. Adding a superficial layer of computer programming to this mix at great cost isn't going to do much. Especially if the kids don't see any career opportunity in that field.

      2. Pompous Git Silver badge

        Re: Yet another money pit

        The Gitling enrolled in university IT. Despite everyone in the class having used MS Word and Excel during the preceding two years of college, they had a compulsory class in how to use them. The lecturer didn't even know how to centre a line of text. Then the Gitling attended a second year lecture in web application development. Halfway through the lecture he asked why there was nothing about security. "Oh, that's something we add on after the application is finished" he was told.

        Needless to say the Gitling did not complete his degree. Not to worry though, he's second in charge at his place of work and very well paid by local standards. Not surprising when you consider he can write an app in a couple of days to do what that several thousand dollar add-in for the software they use would have cost!

  2. Cincinnataroo

    Our civilisation needs a solution

    Some Politicians, Bureaucrats and Teachers may be part of the problem, regardless we need solutions.

    Without them we're stuck with a society with a rising belief in magic.

    (Some of those magics being, I need an app for that, the Internet just works, I'll wait for my browser supplier to fix the SSL suites for me, What's automation - not in MY grimoire mate...)

  3. dan1980

    No money for teacher training is a laugh.

    You can write up whatever curriculum you like and assign whatever texts takes your fancy but if the teachers aren't up to the material then the students who don't have a pre-existing aptitude for the subject will be left behind.

    That's the way it is with all subjects but especially the more technical ones like maths and science and, yes, computing. The idea, after all, is to give a broader range of students a good foundation in these technical subjects so that they have the ability to take them up later in their education.

    It's about getting those kids who aren't exposed to that kind of thinking to become familiar and comfortable with it. Computing, much like science and engineering and maths, is as much a way of thinking as it is any particular piece of knowledge and it's teachers that can make-or-break that crucial component.

    Teachers, in my view, are there not to tell students what happened but help them understand why it happened; to infer the workings of unfamiliar concepts by reasoning from known concepts. In short, curriculums and text books are there to provide knowledge and teachers are there to provide the tools to understand and use that knowledge.

    This kind of piecemeal thinking is why so many government initiatives and programs fail - they focus on writing down rules that target the problem that is occurring but ignore the reasons. Want to try to reduce dangerous drug use? Harsher penalties are clearly the order of the day. A wonder, really, that such a simple solution hasn't worked yet . . . (Anywhere, ever.)

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