"Your IT curriculum focuses on teaching how to use software, but gives no insight into how it's made." Eric Schmidt
I think our education system is letting down our kids. And it's a curriculum issue. Instead of opening young minds to the creative possibilities and empowering potential of open software and computing, our ICT (Information and Communication Technology, or Computing to you and me) curriculum is rooted firmly in desktop computing. Instead of educating our children on how stuff is built and encouraging them to tinker, we are training our children in how to use Microsoft software.
It desperately needs to change. So I've dedicated my latest column for New Media Age to it, prompted by this exceptional post from Emma MulQueeny (who is behind the brilliant Young Rewired State and Coding For Kids) telling the story of a young developer who became disillusioned with the education system when he failed a school project only because his IT teacher could not mark the iPhone game he had built.
Over the last five years, there's been a 57% fall in the number of pupils taking ICT GCSE, and the number of students sitting computing A-level has fallen for eight successive years. And yet this should be one of the most directly empowering and exciting subjects on the curriculum. For me this is about equipping our young with critical skills that can enable them to thrive in the new world. But it's also an investment in the present and the future of our economy (how many times have we heard the phrase 'enterprise-led recovery') that is so badly needed right now. The government has just admitted that Britain is not doing enough to teach the next generation of programmers, so let's see them do something about it.
Emma MulQueeny has created a government e-petition to start teaching coding as a part of the curriculum in Year 5, believing that this will also help address the serious gender imbalance among coders. After seeing a tweet I put out about this yesterday, the clever folk at Digit designed a poster to help support the cause which you can see below. I urge you to sign the petition.