UK ICT classes killing kids' interest in tech
Like PE lessons but with computers
The Royal Society is to investigate why British schools are failing to interest children in information technology - and why numbers taking classes are falling so fast.
Since 2006 there has been a 33 per cent fall in pupils taking ICT GCSEs, and numbers taking A-levels in ICT have fallen by a third in six years. The number of candidates taking A-level Computing has fallen 57 per cent in eight years.
The Society is working with other organisations to find out why schools are failing so badly, especially when so many kids are obsessed with gadgets, computer games, social networking and playing music really bloody loudly on their mobile phones.
Professor Matthew Harrison, Director of Education at The Royal Academy of Engineering said: “Young people have huge appetites for the computing devices they use outside of school. Yet ICT and Computer Science in school seem to turn these young people off. We need school curricula to engage them better if the next generation are to engineer technology and not just consume it.”
Professor Steve Furber is chairing the study for the Royal Society, and said the UK had a proud history of technological innovations - including the World Wide Web.
Furber said: "From this bright start, we are now watching the enthusiasm of the next generation waste away through poorly conceived courses and syllabuses. If we cannot address the problem of how to educate our young people in inspirational and appropriate ways, we risk a future workforce that is totally unskilled and unsuited to tomorrow’s job market."
The BCS, Microsoft, Google and several universities are also involved. The group expects to have finished the report by winter 2011. More info is available here. ®
A good start...
...would be to teach children about computers, not simply show them how to use Microsoft Word. When I took my GCSEs, all we did was sit tiredly and listen as the teacher explained how to justify text and insert images; hardly breeding much enthusiasm among us.
No change there then
Back when I was a sprog, I spent every waking minute at home writing programs on my ZX Speccy. However, Computer Studies at school were dull as dishwater, with endless lectures on mainframes, writing LOGO scripts for turtles and having to use BBC Model Bs for everything. Even the most hardcore geeks were bored within minutes.
When I was a lad...
I sat the last year of "O Level" Computer Studies which included programming in BBC Basic and assembly lanuage. I was told the new "GCSE" would be "How to use a word processor and a spreadsheet".
I thought then as I do now, why do I need a GCSE in how to hold a pen and use a calculator? Shouldn't that have been taught as part of a wider curriculum?