ICT and Computing GCSE

Messrs Gove and Cameron seem to me to be comedy stars from the silent screen who are struggling with the ‘talkies’. Good lines are consequently few and far between with the notable exception of  “That’s another fine...

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Messrs Gove and Cameron seem to me to be comedy stars from the silent screen who are struggling with the ‘talkies’. Good lines are consequently few and far between with the notable exception of  “That’s another fine mess you’ve gotten me into...Govey”. 

Take for example the newly announced 2014 education reforms, which include - Ta Da! - ICT and Computer Science! A subject that is not ICT (too easy) and also not Computer Science (too hard) but just right; a Goldilocks solution no less. 

If it sounds too good to be true... well, you know the rest. So does PeterT who wrote all about it recently. Here are a couple of excerpts from his article:

‘The subject associations for ICT (Naace) and Computer Science (CAS) and the Association for IT in Teacher Education (ITTE) recently published a joint statement about their view(s) on how ICT in schools should be reformed, and in particular the relationship between ICT and Computer Science.

….why have they ignored some key aspects of the Royal Society Report on Computing in Schools? This was an independent, in depth study looking at how to enhance the teaching of computing in schools, which Naace and CAS both contributed to.'

The more experienced reader will be getting shivers at this point as they see the silent movie gag unfolding in the hands of four incompatible organisations with predictably ‘hilarious’ consequences. Yes, you guessed it - they have got into a muddle and are starting to slap each other.

The problem is that 'Subjects' don’t exist in any real sense outside the strange world of education. History is not about the past tense, Geography is not about coloured crayons (ok, it is) and Science certainly has little to do with science. Maths is not numeracy, nor English literacy...

Thus 'ICT and Computing' is a classic edubollocks Goldilocks solution to a problem that does not exist. 

Introducing ICT as a school subject was a natural and responsible response to a phenomenal technological change that occurred over a short period of time and completely changed the world of work: gone were rooms of accountants bent over spread-sheets; gone were rooms of copy-typists high on Tippex; gone were the traders on the floor of the stock exchange; gone were the Telex terminals and gone were the graphic artists creating Kodak carousel slide shows.

Instead, almost overnight we had Excel, email, Lotus Notes, Word, and PowerPoint. No one, surely, would blame schools for responding with urgency to this incredible change? ICT was born in the face of real need and despite its flaws, at GCSE meets that need.

In contrast, do we need computing? Apparently not. This year with the introduction of higher University fees applications for Computing and related subjects fell yet again as expected, but more than rival subjects such as Media and Psychology. It seems that our young people don’t see computing as anything more than a niche occupation...which it is.

Computing has changed very little compared to the technology it supports. Turing, who would now be  a hundred years old, would I guess be entirely comfortable with modern computing languages and structures. 

In deprecating ICT and falling for the siren calls of the esoteric world of computing, Micheal Gove has set himself up for a classic comedy finale. ICT and Computing  makes about as much sense as trying to sell a low spec PC without a case, running Linux to schools that lust after i-Pads... and who would try to do that?

Very soon after the slapping, our comedy stars will be chucking custard pies and trading insults....

"That’s another fine mess..."

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