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: The new magic - not just supply
by jabbotts on Sun 8th May 2011 20:25 UTC in reply to "The new magic"
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It's not just the supply of teachers that is the problem. most teachers won't actually teach there primary subject. Math teachers in front of music, french and art classes. Remembering back, one of my "computer" teachers was an english teacher another was an art teacher put in charge of computers and multi-media (mostly video). Sadly, just having more comp-sci backgrounds apply to teacher's college doesn't result in more of those comp-sci backgrounds being assigned to computer classes.

Schools are also run as factories to churn out office workers. They produce wage slaves not educated life long learners. The companies all want staff that can use Word and Excel so the schools teach Word and Excel instead of word processing and spreadsheet applications. The companies want staff that can use Windows because that's what companies have invested in already; schools produce staff that can use Windows but loose the ability to think if presented with any non-Microsoft branded GUI. (as if icons, windowed apps and mice suddenly work differently because of branding)

More comp-sci backgrounds applying to teacher's college wouldn't hurt but it also takes interest from parents to push the schools back to teaching the ability to learn rather than the ability to recognize a specific brand name tool. If a school claims to teach students "computes", make sure the students can actually use a computer regardless of what brand of major OS the boot screen presents. Parents need to take an interested in there children's education, meet with "educators" and demand better.

That's not to just leave the school systems hanging dry either. We can't demand better from schools while consistently reducing education budgets year over year. This is also a symptom of political problems. Army needs a new tank; cut education and redirect that money into killing gear. Provide schools with the financial support needed to teach more than reading, math and home-ec; nah.. we need that billion to buy more bombs to drop in foreign countries. If one lives in a country where political leaders are voted in and/or actually responsible to the constituents, one needs to stop voting lawyers into office and start earning the government they want not accepting the government resulting from campaign marketing scams and popularity contests. And lest we forget, an educated population is dangerous for politicians; don't think for yourselves, trust "our" policy just like Fox News tells you too.

(I'd love to see someone with an education background voted into office instead of another lawyer but wishful thinking and all that..)

It may all boil down like this even; well educated people are not attracted to the teaching profession because they can make more money elsewhere. The majority of those who choose the teaching profession do not get to teach the topic they are actually educated in. When we do finally get teachers, we expect them to constantly do more with dwindling budgets. The schools that can get third party support usually have to pander to them with special deals (MS will donate computer lab hardware and software but they'll probably ask that only MS technologies be taught, Coke will donate money but you'll have to agree not to sell Pepsi products along with agreeing to sell Coke products as if a coke machine has any business in a school in the first place).

Bah.. real education has become a privileged for those who can pay exorbitant tuition at private schools. Fk the general population and publicly funded education; we can't be putting money into that or we'll loose our minimum wage McDonald's staff.

Reply Parent Score: 5

Neolander Member since:

Fk the general population and publicly funded education; we can't be putting money into that or we'll loose our minimum wage McDonald's staff.

Don't worry. I live in a country where education is publicly funded and university costs ~€400/year, and we still have lots of staff left for McDonald's ;)

Reply Parent Score: 4

jabbotts Member since:

I do envy those countries where even university education is considered a right rather than a privileged. If I remember correctly, your down around France but I believe the folks from the Norse regions also enjoy that benefit.

Reply Parent Score: 4

bert64 Member since:

Teaching computing is one area where ever decreasing budgets aren't as bad as they seem...

Old computers are perfectly adequate for teaching the general concepts, and are also far less likely to be stolen.
Similarly, pretty much all the software you need to educate people about the basic operation is available for free.

If you teach people how the basic concepts of things like a browser, word processor, spreadsheet etc work, then they can apply these skills to virtually any system they might come across.

It is extremely damaging to lock kids in to specific brands of application because there is no guarantee that software will still be in use by the time those kids leave school...
I learned wordperfect for dos when i was in school, what use is that now?... msoffice had a radical change of interface in 2007, how many kids were taught the earlier versions?

Reply Parent Score: 5