Shut down or restart? Again?
18th November 2017
After reading this article highlighted by @MerlinJohn on Twitter yesterday, Shutdown or restart? Again?, I was perplexed as to why this updated report was any surprise? As usual as with most things in education, changes to the curriculum are made without the very people who really need to be consulted – teachers. Teachers who know more about the workings of the classroom and how, what, when and why to change and adapt effectively the curriculum subject matter. Read the summary report ‘After the Reboot’ here
I was immediately transported back to the days of the infamous New Opportunities Funding (NOF), ‘the cart after the horse had bolted’, training for teachers which eventually arrived after computers sat in cupboards nicely covered with colourful cloth for years. Eventually someone realised that teachers needed to be trained before they could successfully use computers as part of their teaching. Then came Hands On Support (HOS) which enabled teachers to have in-class support through their local authority and approved providers such as Research Machines (RM), to give them contextual uses of computers and other fancy devices such as Interactive Whiteboards. I was a trainer for both of these schemes and spent years, trying to enthuse teachers, succeeding with some and failing with others who had absolutely no interest in learning how to use ‘those mechanical contraptions’, which might have broken no sooner they looked at it’.
What I am thinking at the moment is, How comes, excuse the pun, that no lessons were learned following the amount of time, effort and money were injected into facilitating both NOF and HOS? The Computing Curriculum is no different! The expectation for non specialist teachers to teach Computer Science when 99% of teachers want to teach the three Rs and all the peripheral subjects and not something most of them don’t understand, seems insane. How can anyone think that teaching ‘Computer Science’ was going to get a better reaction from teachers when ‘Control Technology’ in the curriculum didn’t??? Is there any wonder that not many young people are taking up the subject at GCSE?
Primary schools are worse, being a ‘jack of all trades but a master of none’ is the phrase that comes to mind to describe the majority of primary school teachers who are happy just to learn the basics of Scratch. No fancy coding needed to learn as this fulfils the requirement of teaching coding. I hear it said all the time -‘done it’!
The question of the difference between Computing and Computer Science is a valid one. As many would argue Computing is the digital literacy aspect of the curriculum, which should be the focus of Curriculum. What do you think?