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Coding: 'Suitable for exceptionally dull weirdos'

Niche, mechanical skill, a bit like plumbing or car repair

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Readers' corner Teaching all children to code software is daft and pointless to The Telegraph blogger Willard Foxton. In an article attacking the UK government’s plans to update the ICT curriculum, the “investigative journalist and television producer", writes:

The new rules expect five to seven year-olds to understand the definition of an algorithm years before they are due to be taught algebra, as well as being able to "create and debug simple computer programs". Once they've grasped this, seven to 11 year-olds will have to code programs "in at least two programming languages".

Willard acknowledges that the current ICT curriculum is broken:

For the last decade or so, computing lessons have been dreadful. ICT has become one of those pathetic subjects like Religious Education: taught by the runts of the teaching litter and seen as pointless by pupils.

Ouch. But teaching everyone how to become programmers is not the answer. Why?

I'm all for people to learning to code – I wrote a piece arguing we should teach it in prisons earlier this year – but I think we need to be aware of its limitations. Coding is a niche, mechanical skill, a bit like plumbing or car repair.

As a subject, it only appeals to a limited set of people – the aforementioned dull weirdos. There’s a reason most startup co-founders are “the charming ideas guy” paired with “the tech genius”. It’s because if you leave the tech genius on his own he’ll start muttering to himself.

Sounds like fighting talk in these parts.

Reg readers, what do you make of this? Head this way to the forums. ®

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