Linked by David Adams on Sun 8th May 2011 04:15 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems Well-known game developer David Braben is a little bit fed up with the state of computer science education these days, which seems to have shifted away from learning programming to some sort of computer-oriented "life skills" class. As the father of eleven and nine year-old boys, I can attest that so far, despite a massive investment on the part of their school in computer equipment, their computer education has consisted mostly of "play this math game" and "don't be victimized by cyber-perverts." Braben's idea to stem this tide: a very, very cheap computer that students can learn to program on.
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RE: Scope
by xiaokj on Sun 8th May 2011 12:16 UTC in reply to "Scope"
xiaokj
Member since:
2005-06-30

Roughly the first 10 years of school (up until a child is about 15 years old) should be teaching general things that apply to a large number of different occupations

Sorry, but this is very much disagreeable. Especially in the current day and age, where there is increasingly less an unskilled person can do to survive (I'll expand upon this later in here), you might want to have a different viewpoint.

I mean, what is the point of an education that serves only to give the student "facts"? Facts are ridiculously easy to acquire if the basic structure is known. The real problem is how to teach people to be wise, and that is only imparted with a careful combination of facts and exemplary teaching. Seriously, nowadays, Wolfram Alpha and Google can replace many tables of data people would require to do stuff, and calculators are cheaply available. Tables of data are just that -- collection of facts. What we really need to know before we can even use them is "why are they true?" and "what caveats do they have?". These cannot be taught with just facts alone, or "general knowledge". Just in my course, there are a lot of people given tools they simply just cannot use, not for a lack of knowledge, but for a lack of understanding.

People, we need to teach people to think! There will be no future for those that do not! Increasingly, we don't need people to just man the workplace; we need people to push the frontiers!

Which brings me to the other point. Why must we teach people to man the workplace? If they cannot already do it by themselves, the society will eradicate them. It is already happening -- of the lower end jobs, the salaries are not increasing much faster than the inflation rate. And always, the locals are making it worse: always complaining about foreign workers upending their jobs, the locals quit when forced to take them up. A society cannot survive when a sizeable fraction is just made up of brats. This hypocrisy is so deep: the foreign workers, simply by manning those positions, actually make things much cheaper for the locals. Xenophobes are just that, a great big bunch of brats that are doomed to have no future.

There is nothing more general and common sense than Mathematics. Is the contemporary teaching of that any good? Really? Don't you know that Programming is nothing other than one aspect of logical Mathematics? Why is this branch outside of high school? Of the good part of current teaching, we still teach Geometry. I propose that, for any serious teacher of Geometry, to state clearly at the start of, and at the end of any module to say the following:

"Ladies and Gentlemen, it may seem that we may be dealing with lines, circles, figures and angles in Geometry. It has nothing to do with that. My main purpose is _not_ to impart in you these facts. Education needs to be much more than that. What is really happening is that, society has realised that in order to prepare you to be useful, to no one other than yourselves, not us, we need to teach people how to argue logically with the facts; in other words, how to be a complete and total pain in the liar's neck, and how to do it legally and irrefutably. That is the true reason why we want to teach Geometry -- to prepare you for your inevitable need to reason."

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