* Posts by boisvert

7 publicly visible posts • joined 20 Jan 2012

Want your kids to learn coding? Train the darn teachers first


Dumping pis, that's exactly the problem teachers face. A bit of Python sounds a good use for them, although in primary, scratch is probably a better idea. But you don't need pis for these.

- computer science unplugged has all kind of ways to teach ideas away from the machines, I recommend it.

- The first lego league is an exciting thing to join in

- and if there's money and time to do something different, fun and exciting, how about the lilypad arduino?


True, not enough training, but a lot of it is poor anyway

I teach computing at university, and we have a program supporting secondary teachers locally.

The problem of lack of training in Computing is not new - for years, IT has been given to untrained people, teachers who need spare hours because there's less demand for their work (or they are useless) (or they teach sports, and someone decided that they have time because there's no marking).

Having said that, as a specialist who meet teachers who need support, I receive a lot of marketing from companies profiting from this, and selling anything from kits and ready lessons to one-week miracle training courses.

The thing is, introducing coding in school as a serious activity was never going to work fast. There was a timing opportunity as the tories arrived in government just as we were lobbying for this change, and that speeded up the decision, but training teachers, getting the schools to employ trained people, and rebuilding the credibility that has been ravaged by nearly 20 years of stupid IT takes time. Prof Peyton-Jones, one of the main academics involved in the lobbying for code in school, calls it the "ground war", and it's going to have to be won school by school, headteacher by head teacher.

If you are in a position to influence this - a teacher, parent, professional - then support


they are free, they don't sell any snake oil, and you'll find contacts and forums to support schools, as well as materials for your classes and events worth asking for support for.

If you are in the Sheffield area, and you want to know more about what we do, I work at Sheffield Hallam University: c dot boisvert at shu dot ac dot uk.

Judge rules Baidu political censorship was an editorial right


There's no paradox

The difference to make is between corporations, like Baidu, and people.

The 1st amendment never intended to extend free speech to a corporation. It granted the rights of free speech to people, so that a government of the people, by the people, for the people would be possible. It's only been interpreted by the courts as corporation rights in very recent years, with disastrous effects: as campaign spending and special-interest advertising have become seen as protected under the first amendment, it has transformed the electoral process in the U.S. and created the adversarial, expensive mud-slinging that we see today.

The idea that a Chinese corporation's moves to suppress information should be seen as free speech is, quite frankly, barmy. If it is enjoying the rights of a person, where is its entry visa into the United States? Is it allowed to apply for work there? If it breaks the law, will it go to prison?

More about the stupidity of corporate free speech here: http://freespeechforpeople.org/


Problem lies elsewhere

The apparent paradox goes away when you realise that it is wrong to give corporations personal rights, as if they were people.

Corporations aren't people. They don't enjoy the same rights - the vote for example. They aren't subject to the same punishments, you can't put a corporation in prison or in the electric chair. It is a fallacy to give Baidu speech rights as if they were a person. Neither can it exercise religion or carry a weapon.

Once you remember that corporations aren't people the paradox vanishes away: Baidu can't exercise a right of free speech.

69,000 sign petition to save TV-linker O'Dwyer from US extradition


Re: Treat everyone the same

In fact, he did - some of the links were to legal sites and some where not - it was not a site dedicated to law-breaking, it was dedicated to links to TV programmes.


UK gov e-petition about O'Dwyer

This petition doesn't name Richard O'Dwyer explicitly, but is about cases like his:


In fact, its creator is a student at the same university as Richard, and the final statement about "foreign lobby groups to enforce dubious copyright protection measures" gives a bit of a hint ;-)

UK student faces extradition to US after piracy case ruling


Petition in Richard O'Dwyer's support

If you think this extradition is unfair, sign here