Not a total raspberry
Such inventions are fantastic classroom talking points for kids, and really get them thinking about how technology works. Even if they don’t leave the lesson knowing a programming language any better than they did before, they’ve still encountered and used logical thinking processes. This kind of kit is also a great way to inspire children with a coding inclination to get tinkering.
Richard Lander’s head of ICT, Jenny Griffiths, says there’s a “real place for programming boards”, but she also knows that, realistically, the number of students who have a sustainable interest in a subject like programming is “capped at around 20 per cent of children”. And that’s probably being generous.
Pi in the Sky: the board is great for science projects not just coding lessons
Bryan Pearce, deputy head of Swallow Hill Community College, Leeds, agrees. The Pi, he says, will not turn Britain into a nation of programmers. “For some children it really pushes a switch, for others it leaves them cold. It’s not for everyone.”
So when Ian Livingstone, co-founder of Games Workshop and a senior UK games publisher figure, suggests that Raspberry Pis should be given to “every child in the country”, he ought to think carefully about the vastly varied demographic he’s referring to. Most RPis would end up gathering dust in drawers or sold on eBay, and even worse: it could confirm to some kids that coding really is a foreign and difficult world that they will never want, or be able to, understand.
10 This is boring
20 Let’s go play football / smoke fags
30 Go to “The Park”
It doesn’t mean some Raspberry Pis shouldn’t be distributed for free. Indeed, code-minded children will come up with some amazing work. How’s this for a better distribution model? Run a lunchtime club to show off the Raspberry Pi, its capabilities and potential. If children show up and give it a go for two or three sessions, then give those kids a Raspberry Pi – heck, give them two.
Some exposure to programming boards – and, importantly, the logical thought involved in make use of such technology – can benefit many children, even at a young age, and will inspire some to get involved further. The Pi is a great device for granting the next-generation of hobbyist programmers and electrical engineers early access to the coding world – but in schools it works best in particular circumstances only.
So the HDMI lead you brought in is a slightly different spec and won’t work with our monitors? Um, see you next week.
Source: Giles Hill
It can be useful in the context of Computing at GCSE and above. It may also work with small groups of children who are interested in coding and have the inquisitive perseverance that the Raspberry Pi requires – extra-curricular coding clubs are a fantastic idea. Furthermore, there’s no reason why small, higher-ability groups of children (of any age) with a flair for coding can’t be challenged with Pi projects by teachers in mainstream lessons.
The Raspberry Pi is a tool for investigation, a toybox for those kids who’ve just begun their obsession with computers. And while that makes it a wonderful learning device for some, by the same token it also makes it unsuitable for teaching ‘average Joe and Josephine’.
If schools attempt to teach coding to every child using Raspberry Pis alone, there are going to be some awfully frustrated teachers out there, trapped in a haze of code, USB leads and broken HDMI connectors, and some ridiculously bored children as well. That would be a real shame for everyone. ®
We need them for democracy
Democracy requires every person to understand the world to some degree. Computers are an important part of our world. So people need to have at least a general idea about how they work. They need to know what they do where their inherent limitations are.
If you don't teach children how to program, they will grow up not understanding why "copy protection" cannot work, or why voting machines can never be used for democratic elections.
"Secondly, the "£25" computer is a myth. You have to buy cases, SD cards, highly-regulated power supplies, plus something for it to plug into (like a monitor for a start). PER DEVICE."
Wrong. Bar the SD card it's no "per device", it's per seat. The keyboard, monitor etc all probably exist right now and are ready to use. Heck, the RasPi can be per seat too, just have the kids carry their own SD card (may not make sense in all cases though).
The RasPi is far from perfect, but the idea is sound and it is better that spunking £500+ on locked-down shite that just spits out brainless button-pushers.
"you need to have the training and the support infrastructure there to handle things."
That exists. They're called "Computer Science Teachers". And then I remember that in England one is not required to have a degree in the subject one teaches.
It's not the coding or even the RasPi
It's the everything. It's removing the fear of tinerking, investigating and trying new things. It's encouraging thought, analysis, design, and engineering. This used to be the province of Meccano, Lego etc (both now dumbed down to hell).
To do this you don't actually need a RasPi, but you need something free, open and cheap enough that if you do happen to break it; it's not the end of the world. You simply cannot do that on a desktop PC with restricted boot and a restricted operating system.
All that does is produce push-button clones who thing "Google" is the Internet and that Excel is a good database.
Well, every post I've read from you over the past few months, related to the Raspi, has said pretty much the same thing - extreme negativity because of initial teething troubles. Now some points you make are still valid, but most are not. The latest boards have improved power handling, the latest kernel software (which I presume you haven't tried since you board is in the loft - I'd suggest selling it whilst there is still a backlog) is much improved and fixes the majority of USB issues. Supply issues are almost sorted - going from expected 30k sales per year to 1 million takes a bit of sorting out. It has been surprisingly popular...
As to the usefulness in school - I think the article was extremely good and shows up where it's useful and where it isn't. It's never claimed to be a panacea, but a catalyst to improve the teaching of computers - and it's certainly kicked something off!
No, no and thrice no!
We do not need them learning "web programming", we need them learning how the systems and languages that support the web and all the associated infrastructure. Teaching them web programming is no better than teaching them Excel; we need them to be able to write their own operating systems, write their own web-based languages, etc...
Plus financial success isn't the only reward for learning to do something; believe it or not, some people, even those who left school over a decade ago (or several decades ago), actually enjoy learning something new just to learn something new.