Schools say they act in the interest of students.
Schools’ aims statement say (or infer) that they want to improve learners’ employability.
Schools push pupils through quasi-vocational qualifications that give two or more ‘good’ GCSEs if you can just repeat the same formula enough times (and take plenty of screen shots).
Employers. Don’t. Want. To. Know.
The education system is currently delivering the wrong skill set. What we’re creating is a generation of IT consumers, but not IT creators.
This was from Andy Palmer, head of skills at BT Group, in a ZDnet article IT skills gap faces lack of qualified teachers. Palmer is further quoted:
Students will need to accept that the knowledge is often transient and will frequently change over the course of their career.
Computing also quotes Palmer:
GCSE and A-level ICT and computing are focused on using IT to produce outcomes, rather than exploring the application of IT to make improvements to processes or encouraging development of new products and services.
Study of such nature goes no way to prepare students for employment and does not prepare them technically for the challenges they would face studying computing at university.
These articles arose out of the Westminster eForum debate last week. PC Pro also commented on the issues raised in two articles: ICT classes leave students “bored rigid” and Q&A: How Britain’s throwing away its tech heritage.
In the latter, Dr Sue Black (@Dr_Black) argues that programming (of a simple nature) should be taught from as young as five:
You could teach programming concepts even if you weren’t teaching programming. Just simple things, so kids understand what an algorithm is, how a computer takes instructions, how a computer works. That sort of thing is completely missing from our computing teaching at the moment.
With due deference to Dr Black, I do think that many KS1 classrooms teach such things when they get out the BeeBots or talk about ‘programming’ a microwave. But this is often lost as pupils move through the school system.
In IT courses need “radical” change to attract women Mike Carbonaro, of the University of Alberta, argues for teaching game construction to male and female students together. According to PC Pro, researchers in his department “found that women were far more interested in designing and building games than they were in playing them”.
Whether it is programming, game construction or a range of other approaches, what is not needed is more screen shots of trivial customer databases cobbled together in Microsoft Access.
It seems that the qualifications offered to many youngsters are more about schools’ league table positions, based on ‘good’ GCSEs, rather than on their future employability.
In just whose interests are schools educating?
(This post was – in part – inspired by @anna_debenham’s piece Help keep ICT in our schools.)