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The Royal Society is to investigate why British schools are failing to interest children in information technology - and why numbers taking classes are falling so fast. Since 2006 there has been a 33 per cent fall in pupils taking ICT GCSEs, and numbers taking A-levels in ICT have fallen by a third in six years. The number of …

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IT Angle

It's a joke

I finished my A-levels 5 years ago and GCSE IT, A-Level IT and A-level Computer Science where all shit. You didn't learn much, if anything. Almost all of it I knew already or knew bits about. Some was utter wank and so out-dated it was ridiculous (We looked through an answer sheet for a past paper and instant messaging wasn't a valid answer in communicating in an office...even though IM has been around for many many years.) For Computer Science a-level I had two teachers and one of them had been in the industry for many years, however you could tell how he was tied down to this bull shit curriculum and it annoyed him. We ended up doing other stuff a lot of the time. For people that are interested in computers by a-level you could have a fun'ish course...but it's not. Its a joke

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BCS, Microsoft, Google and several universities are also involved

What a shame.

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Not to mention

If you're of an age where you're thinking of learning in preparation to enter the work-place (so we're talking A-Level - or equivalent - and up) you _might_ look at the saturated, over-worked, under-paid world of IT and think, nah, stuff it - I'll do plumbing instead.

If you want to get people interested in IT, you have to do something interesting with IT ... unfortunately, in the world of work, most people's exposure to IT is MS Office and that's about it - so that's what they teach. It's not until you've decided to invest your future in IT and taken it to further/higher education level that you can begin to specialise into something more interesting.

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Anonymous Coward

@A good start

> not simply show them how to use Microsoft Word

if only ... my son (14) uses Word as a typewriter - he appears to have been given no teaching on how to structure documents, use styles, paragraphs etc - instead its all about highlighting text, changing font size, bold, underline etc .... and if you need a picture stick it on the page and the use a few newlines to get past it for the next text ..... of course, once some other changes have been made the picture is on top of text and there a white space below etc etc etc.

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Silver badge

@AC

One has to ask whether your son actually knows how to write grammatically correct and intelligible English, because unless he knows this, trying to teach him to use Word is pointless.

This would be the domain of the English classes, not ICT.

All those many years ago , I remember in English having to read, comprehend, and write relevant comments on a series of articles, which taught me how to use the language. Even though I was not very good at it, it laid the foundation for all of the wordy subjects (History, Geography) as well as a basis for reports on Science experiments.

I think that teaching basic computer use for everybody is a good thing, but there should be a differentiation between this, and teaching Computing as an engineering or technology discipline. This way you would be able to separate the mundane 'using a word processor, web browser and multimedia apps' from the interesting 'what is a CPU, how do programmes run and how do you write them and what is involved in networking'. If you did this, then I believe that the kids with a genuine interest could separate the boring and interesting stuff, hopefully keeping them engaged.

My youngest kids hate(d) the way that ICT is/was taught, but do actually have a genuine interest in how their computers connect together, and what the basic components are. indeed, when I built a system from scratch last Christmas, I had a willing audience for almost all of the work I did. Virtually nothing involved with putting the system together and installing the OS was familiar to them even though they both have studied or are studying ICT at GCSE level. And they are fascinated when I can write a quick program to do something specific, when they cannot see how a spreadsheet, almost the only data tool taught to them, could be applied to a problem.

I must agree that you should have properly trained teachers, at least for GCSE level and up, because having ICT as a second subject will never give the teacher enough background to do more that follow the pre-prepared courses from the syllabus.

I admit to being a little partisan about this, because 25 years ago I taught up to degree level at a UK Polytechnic for a while, and I could see the way that business computing was going at the time.

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Coat

Yes at all of the above!

They've always been boring, but my teacher couldnt see more than 5 inches away bless him. So we got up to whatever you could get away with ie drawing boobies via coding a basic vector graphic etc on something that was not either an Apple or an acorn for that matter. We had "Virus" installed on the acorn or paint. This was 1991 however! If only we thought about crafting and copyrighting smileys and such like at that time, we'd be rich?

MS isnt just ICT, maybe they could include some network hacking/warez cracking, overclocking or photoshopping into the curriculum?

Make it fun.. "Today children we will be hacking into NASA via some 'tools' that I am going to demonstrate on the big screen and explain how they work step by step... blah blah blah"

:)

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Pop
FAIL

Not British

If all you're talking about is O and A levels then you're talking about England and Wales.

Any statistics for Scotland ?

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Silver badge

'O' levels.

If you're talking about 'O' levels, then you are talking 20+ years ago, as schools have been teaching GCSE's since then.

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FAIL

Nobody wants to teach it, except those who shouldn't be allowed to.

At my daughter's school - a Technology College, no less - they've come up with what they term a "novel and effective" solution to the lack of teachers capable of teaching the subject: online courses. They just stick 20 kids in a room with a bunch of computers, the teacher (usually a music or French teacher) writes a URL on the board and then they get on with it. I was actually considering going in to teaching (maths and IT) a couple of years ago, and the route I was planning on required that I spend at least 2 days in a school, so I sat in on a few lessons of each. I was horrified at how out-of-date and inadequate (and sometimes plain *wrong*) the courses were. Most of the material came from a basic maintenance course that I'd come across back in 1998, and it was just as wrong then as it is now. I spoke to the head about it, and his response was "It doesn't really matter, as long as we're teaching them something about IT."

A short while later (during one of the few lessons where the kids were actually being taught), I caught them advising kids to use a commercial logo generator site (which requires that you pay to download the images), take a screenshot and edit out the watermark. This was in the same lesson where they were telling them to fake their date of birth to get a hosting account. None of the staff could see a problem with these things until I threatened to take it to the school governors and the press.

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Flame

Mystery Solved

I recently received a speculative email from a job pimp offering a vocational ICT trainer position at the dizzy salary of £15k - seriously. Would anyone who knew their arse from their elbow take a job at £15k!? This job wanted a couple of year's experience as well.

You just know that whoever they get is not going to have a clue how systems work. They're going to be people who read out verbatim from the curriculum. No better than someone in a call centre reading from a script. They'll also fall down equally as hard when the path deviates from the script.

You wouldn't pay a medical lecturer £15k because they could get vastly more in the "real word". The same holds true for competent IT workers. They'll get their living from the same place. Until pay in subjects reflects the salary that the teachers could get in the private sector putting their experise to use, this won't change. Ever. It sounds simplistic but it really is first and foremost an issue with money.

I am a money gubbing, job hopping developer. Wage inflation in my industry is still high and a chronic skills drought is in progress. This lack of respect from the public sector really gets up my nose. Hence the icon.

/rant

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Silver badge
FAIL

Because of the rubbish they teach

I work in schools, I'm a school IT manager and I've been in a different school every year since I left uni, on average. Common amongst them all is that none of them know how to teach IT. This stretches from primary (4-5 +) up to college-age (18) - SAT's, GCSE's, A-levels.

IT apparently includes:

-Formatting text in Word.

- Playing with LEGO MIndstorms and 2-3 line programs using them.

- Programming in LOGO (nothing wrong with that, but we're talking about Prep School 10-year-olds, maybe a handful of hours a year in ONE year, or state-school 15-year olds doing the same).

- Going on Google Images and copy/pasting anything you like the look of into your document/slideshow.

- Knocking up a two-paragraph web-page in HTML (and using possibly the ugliest, improperly tagged, out-of-date, standards-incompliant HTML you've ever seen in your life).

- never ever once touching a REAL programming language (even BASIC would qualify - most use some proprietary "graphical" languages that's just a flow-chart in a GUI).

- never ever once being able to correctly label parts of a machine (base unit = hard drive is scarily common amongst educational posters, teachers, etc.)

- never ever once learning how a damn computer works ("It's all done with 1's and 0's... okay, next subject... batch processing...")

- teaches outdated junk like bank's "batch processing" overnight - give three reasons why. DULL, DULL, DULL, and the kids are led to believe that it's "advanced".

Modern curricula are basically what-the-secretary-thought-her-daughter-must-know. It's a list of things like "describe the function of anti-virus software", "describe which program would be more suited to writing a book".

By A-level, kids SHOULD be doing TCP/IP or some variant, binary arithmetic, coding in C/Java at least, building Arduino's and other embedded projects. I know I was when I was their age and that was with no formal education, and my degree is actually in Mathematics first. Instead, at age 18 they're still doing things like explaining dragging-dropping and telling people what WIMP stands for.

Educational IT courses are a complete, utter, 100% waste of time. I've yet to see a single IT teacher who I would confidently trust to update Flash on their laptop without breaking something. I've not met ANYONE teaching it that I would trust to open their computer and insert a PCI card, or to write a 2-line shell script. Hell, anything command-line scares the bejeezus out of the teachers I know.

Point, click, copy what I did, next subject. We're going to breed a generation of people dependent on machines who have NO idea how they work.

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Boring subject

Great, so I've learnt where to find the mail merge in Word. Wonderful. Excuse me if I don't find that exciting.

I've just been and had a look on the BBC's "GCSE Bitesize" ICT revision notes. Oh. My. God. They're still teaching Logo. (Hey guys, the 1980s called - they wondered if you'd like a brick-size mobile phone and some legwarmers, to go with your line numbers.) And they're still teaching flowcharts, the second-worst design method ever. (The worst design method of course is Jackson Structured Programming, a scheme so ill-conceived and monumentally outdated that Jackson himself disowned it.)

Apart from that, the GCSE syllabus ain't bad. It's just dry as dust. You learn a little bit about how things work, which is great. But do you actually do anything? Seems unlikely.

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Logo? [No line numbers here]

I used to teach Logo in the 1980's; actually as an introductory language for KS2 it's not bad at all - and it doesn't have line numbers! I'm still not sure what else would be better as a first language which gets you relatively exciting stuff quickly. Maybe PHP?

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Actually teach IT

I have seen what pupils are now being taught in GCSE ICT lessons, and I know what I was taught 25 years ago at 'O' level standard, and frankly what they're teching now is more basic office skills than actual IT.

There is no information given about the hardware, how it works, it's history etc. There are simply no fundamentals. Furthermore there is no programming involved, and surely any course covering IT must include the skills required to analyze the problem, devise a solution then implement it? When I was 13 I spent every spare hour in front of my VIC 20 / CBM 64 both playing games and writing programs, I can't believe that same interest and inquisitiveness is not there today.

We also need to make these courses commercially relevant and respected, which means at 16 the skills they're taught need to mean enough to at least get them a foot in the door, and companies need to know that someone with this qualification is actually useful and worth employing. The current course is considered a joke and as useful as domestic science in a commercial IT environment. Teach these kids about networks, firewalls, backup procedures, virtualization etc. and they may actually be of some use when they leave school.

Finally, let's show these pupils the fundamental motive behind working in IT, it pays very well compared with most jobs today. You maybe called a geek, but you're a geek with a nice car, a decent home and hopefully a very good income. Appeal to their greed and desire to want to buy stuff, and you'll be surprised just how enthusiastic and interested they become. Emphasise that a higher income could lead to a better looking girlfriend, and you'll have to run extra classes ;)

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S

"...you're a geek with a nice car, a decent home and hopefully a very good income...Emphasise that a higher income could lead to a better looking girlfriend..."

Sadly this is exactly what they do at schools, and it fills people with senses of entitlement beyond their abilities. Also, a job in IT doesn't necessarily mean you will be well paid. Lying to people isn't going to create a pool of good candidates. Teachers tell far too many lies to coerce people who don't want to learn into trying to learn (to keep them quiet). Remember the one about how awful it would be to end up 'working in a factory'? Classic.

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LOLZ

> Emphasise that a higher income could lead to a better looking girlfriend, and you'll have to run

> extra classes ;)

Brilliant...!

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My 2 cents worth

Mr Brush is spot on. The way Computer Studies is taught in schools is just boring. Aside from the poor use of technology, Kids as consumers get to play with cool gadgets whereas in school, computer studies generally starts with trying to explain 1. What is an input?, 2. What is an output? etc, and for homework, read chapter 4 from in this text book from the 80’s. Good stuff to know I admit, but hardly exciting and something to get them hooked on.

However, just because all these kids are using gadgets as consumers and love playing computer games and social networking etc., I don’t think it’s as easy leap to say that it is simply the curriculum that is turning them off. I don’t think we are missing out on thousands of budding IT engineers simply because of education. Many of them may just not be interested in how a computer works, and what’s wrong with that? Most people working in business today use computers in a consumer fashion for their day job without any real understanding of how it works. Isn’t that what the IT staff are for.

Professor Matthew Harrisons comment “Young people have huge appetites for the computing devices they use outside of school” is correct but most young people are too lazy and ignorant to actually want to learn how they work. How many actually read the manuals. I’ll tell you – Those that have an interest in IT read the manual because they want to learn.

My personal favourite at the moment is that every proud parent you speak to will tell you how their little Bobby is just “so interested in computers”, whereas in reality, Little Bobby has no interest in computers, plays computer games all day and just wants the latest gadgets to show off to his friends.

Now people will argue “Oh, but computers are part of everyday life and if you don’t know how they work, you won’t succeed”. They’ve been saying that for a while now I think! Well, how many people drive cars? They’re pretty central to our way of life but how many are actually interested in how a car works and want to be a mechanic? That’s what Mechanics are for. Electricity, again pretty important, but who actually understands it.

There is undoubtedly an argument here in that the way IT is taught in schools is out of touch and the same is probably true about most subjects but I don’t think it’s fair to say that “we risk a future workforce that is totally unskilled and unsuited to tomorrow’s job market" because of it. The sky is not falling in yet.

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Not just ICT, technical and engineering skills too

Isn't all to do with cultivating an inquisitive mind and bugger-all to do specifically with ICT? When I was younger, there was this excellent program called "Tomorrow's World" and others that actually asked questions and demonstrated how things worked. It then degenerated into a superflous "Gadget Show" type program and I lost interest.

I am sure the later Tomorrow's World and current "techie" programmes appeal to the masses wanting shiny new toys and boost viewing ratings (and profits for retailers but sadly not UK manufacturers). So why are we surprised that the current generation show no interest in anything technical, engineering included, when the current trend is to popularise "science" by demonstrating glamourous gadgets from an application point of view?

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gold old fashioned curiosity

That's what kids need. I was a relentlessly curious child. I was never happy with the idea that the "stuff" that happened inside our electricals and mechanicals was totally irrelevant to me. I always thought that if I new what something was going to do when I pushed the button, that I would become better at using it. Or that I would instinctively know how to use it (and how not to use it). And I still think that's true to an extent.

In fact I actually "invented" a couple of things when I was about 10. At one point I thought to myself, what if I stick two CDs back to back and make a double sided CD? I did it and it didn't work - the combined package was too thick for my CD player. But what did I see years later? Double sided DVDs.

Even better, I had the idea that silicon could be layered to make more powerful chips, one slice of silicon above another, with contacts between them in necessary places. What does IBM do years later? The same thing. Of course what I didn't anticipate is the massive problem of cooling such a chip, and IBM used channels of water in the silicon I believe.

How would I ever have thought of that if I didn't know that processors use a single layer of silicon and that the transistor count is roughly corollary to processing power? How would I have thought up the double sided CD innovation if I wasn't aware of how a laser scans the disk? Obviously I couldn't have. That's why kids need to know how things work. At the very least, they should know what magnetic media is and why they can't put it too close to magnets.

I also notice that people are scared, terrified, of electricity. You tell anyone you're going to do any sort of wiring and they recoil in horror. Maybe if they knew how it worked they wouldn't be so paranoid. Yes it can kill you, in much the same way that crossing the road will kill you if you don't know what to look out for. Or taking drugs will kill you if you don't know the right dose.

It really does pay to know something about the world around you.

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Gates Horns

ICt ZzZZZZZZzzzZZ

Si 1 hit the nail on the head kids dont care about ICT they want to play games and go on facebook.

I am an ICT teacher and everybody does the same from 11-16 EXCEL, ACCESS WORD, PUBLISHER.

F**k that, me i teach em some graphic editing (PAINT.NET), MOVIE MAKER and SCRATCH. no wonder kids hate IT, I hate WORD,EXCEL, ACCESS, PUBLISHER. MS is shoved down their neck since primary school because it is what BUSINESS needs DRONES who can work the MS OFFICE SUITE.

As well with these new fangled pathways(year 9 options) they bring in, ICT isnt in the Pathway for the high ability kids, its lumped in with the low ability kids. It's a struggle trying to get the kids to undelrine and put their names on documents, XBOX/FACEBOOK has ruined a generation that see ICT as nothing more than entertainment. Bill for bovious reasons

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Gates Halo

D

If you're an ICT teacher...and you don't like the curriculum, I am guessing that will rub off on your students (especially if you are this negative about MS to them). I'd rather be an office drone than an unemployed person with four 'mash ups' on youTube. Like it or not ICT for me is a synonym for databases, documents, emails and spreadsheets. It has nothing to do with recording another crap flight simulator film and annoying me by posting it when I expected to see the real thing! [/rant].

By this method, I am guessing that science lessons would be all about making explosives and dropping cars from cranes instead of boring stuff about control groups, evidence and hypothesis.

I don't know why you are blaming XBox specifically, I blame the Nintendo DS.

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Megaphone

Schools don't teach IT anymore

I went around many schools as part of my eldest son moving up from primary. I have been a professional programmer for 20 plus years and started way back in the days of the ZX81. I did O & A level computer science and it was great stuff. Learning about internals, doing assembler, Pascal etc. etc. but what I saw in ICT classes for kids these days shocked me. How can you call learning MS Office and publisher ICT? My son has now finished his first year and hates ICT. This from a kid who loves his technology.

My advice? Get back to teaching computers from the ground up, make little embedded devices, do some assembler etc. They will quickly get hooked. I see kids coming in to work these days who know nothing but Java and are powerpoint wizards. They have no ability to fix problems because they have no base knowledge. I would happily go into teaching if I thought I could put some of this rubbish right.

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Lack of Focus

I took a look at the GCSE syllabus for one course at

http://www.ashcombe.surrey.sch.uk/curriculum/ict/GCSE/Y11_ShortCourseSyllabus.pdf

If it's representative of all such qualifications it shows a lack of focus on what the qualification is intended to achieve. It looks like a fairly random collection of "things that have something to do with computers", some of them pretty irrelevant in the 21st century.

If the intention is to teach general IT skills that will be of use to anybody working in an office, and a lot of people working in a whole lot of other places, build a course that teaches that. That would be a really valuable course to a lot of people, arguably it should be in the core curriculum that every pupil learns.

If the intention is to teach kids to become programmers and to develop other skills that would be useful in an IT career, that needs to be taught as a completely separate subject. Such a course would (and should) have less mass appeal, but would be a lot more relevant than learning how to use Word.

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title

all I ever did in my A Level IT class was piss about on an Archimedes A3000 and not take blind bit of notice of what my incompetent "teacher" was saying. i mainly played games or ran fractal generators, which i used to think were brilliant. whatever happened to fractal landscape generators anyway?

i digress...the teacher was useless and had a ginger beard, the subject mater we were supposed to be learning was mind numbingly boring and stuff we all knew anyway, and half the class never turned up in the first place.

i think it's pointless to try and teach kids IT until university level really. just stick to physics and maths etc at secondary school.

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CTI not ICT

By the sounds of things, they should be calling it CTI (Corporate Tools Indoctrination).

Schools are supposed to churn out future employees who already know how to use the tools required by their future employers. It's not about understanding what's inside the box. Besides, taking the lid off to see what's inside is probably a violation of HSE guidelines.

Though, saying that, I know of one school that said "here's a pile of bits, see if you can put them together" - it generated some genuine enthusiasm.

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Silver badge

My tuppence

Irrespective of the kit and courses, would you rather be playing with new technology, designing web sites, and coding applications or teaching kids to do the same (and then spending your evenings marking it)?

That said, if the local school offered a few hours a week I might be prepared to put some time in.

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Linux

My own experiences

As a professional geek, it was inevitable when I was a kid that I'd end up working in IT.

Before the age of 10, I was coding in Pascal and had started to look at other OO languages. However I was lucky enough to have parents that while they were quite computer illiterate, saw that my interest in computing was more than a passing fad and tried very hard to keep up with modern technology. It was an expensive business as despite the fact my local schools did have some computing environments in the late 80's/early 90's, it was all BBC model B's and Masters, which while being great educational tools initially, were already long in the tooth and marching headlong into obscurity while Atari/Commodore and eventually IBM-compatible PCs were taking over the homes and offices across the country.

However there were several problems. IT had not really been accepted as a mainstream academic topic, and the only options I had was to attend the limited number of after-school activities or chat with friends who were in a similar position. There were many trips to the local library for books on varying subjects including the history of computing, programming etc. But there was virtually no support from the local educational facilities - it was all word processing, spreadsheets and other subjects that were not really of much interest to the stereotypical geek that I was, I had already been there, done that and was thoroughly bored.

The first real foray into IT was at 16, and a 2 year college course which gave a limited overview of the arenas available and introduced us to higher-level programming, networking and some project management skills. That had its limits, but at least did not have the blinkered view that the previous schools had, and they had a pretty impressive IT suite which catered for around 200 IT students - which was not bad in the mid-90's for 16-18 year olds.

However, I was able to drag myself along primarily due to my own personal interests in the subject, interests that have continued on as I get older. I ditched coding in favour of being more hands-on with the nuts and bolts of computing. I've been a sysadmin for a number of years, IT manager for a few as well and now am a contractor in the industry earning a decent buck with my Linux and open source skills, and am constantly progressing and training up in areas such as virtualisation, and large-scale web systems.

So while school may have failed me in some respects of my own educational requirements, my own fascination with the industry and perseverance to learning off my own back have paid off and hopefully will continue to.

On a side note, I'm sure those kids who picked on us 'nerds' are thoroughly enjoying their jobs flipping burgers now.

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Anonymous Coward

Breasts!

I, for one, have an abiding interest in women's bosoms.

That doesn't mean that I want, for one instant, to know exactly how they work. Far from it. I'm quite happy in my ignorance.

But then I have yet to encounter a situation when a pair of bosoms has been broken and I am required to fix them (although that has given me some interesting ideas) ...

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Unhappy

Old Hat

I'd just left school when i got my first computer (a VIC 20)

I loved the vic because i could write code to make things move on the screen lol.

To me computers were magical things, things of the future.

But to the kids now, well they just think of them as we would think of lights, TV's, Radios, noting special.

I don't thing I'd have been that interested in a class on how to use a Radio

So I'd say the Wow factor that i had, has gone, thats the problem.

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Badgers

You forgot ECDL

Recently I were helping someone get the tests working (Java client running up MS Access, FFS). I went through some of the questions - ambiguous and some of the answers were (IMHO) wrong.

Daughter doesn't want to do ICT, even though she's very good at maths.

Son is doing it, but he got punished (as in work handed back with no mark) for handing in a document written using OO because the teacher was too idle to download the MS Word filter and load it.

Plus they create a "website" with buttons and drop downs, using a tool - so no understanding of HTML needed - may as well just write a (Word) document.

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Handing in documents in OO?

Whilst I'm all for OO (and was incredibly happy when my former school actually installed it), to be fair, I'd blame your son for handing in OO documents. It's a rather simple (and polite) task to check if the person receiving the document can open OO ones.

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Anonymous Coward

Handing in documents in OO?

"It's a rather simple (and polite) task to check if the person receiving the document can open OO ones."

The thing is, every recipient on every platform can do just that, at zero cost.

Whereas sending someone MS Office implies that they must incur the large and recurring expense of MS Office and the large and recurring expense of MS Windows. DO you think that is polite?

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Anonymous Coward

Handing in documents in OO?

Your son didn't fail because the teacher was too lazy to download the filters, he failed because he was incapable of following the instructions provided. It will have explicitly stated what formats were acceptable.

While you my not agree with those formats, there will have been a number of alternatives if you are non-microsoft, such as rtf. And as OO can save as doc files, he really had no excuse.

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Silver badge

Word processing...

...is to computing as cooking is to chemistry. They are both vital skills, but it is important not to confuse the two.

"Hard" subjects (mathematics, all sciences etc) have been in decline in Britain for years, while or competitor nations (India et al) invest heavily in such subjects. We are already paying for that failure with lower investment and a lack of innovation.

I did the GCSE back when a Master 128 was a shit-hot beast. We never did mail-merge or anything (I have no idea how to do it today, but I have a fair idea of how computers work and how to read the chuffin' manual!), we had to write our own applications in BBC BASIC (I did a very small amount of assembler). Then again, we weren't allowed calculators in maths classes either.

And we were told back than that the GCSEs were too easy!

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Headmaster

I'm guessing I am a tad older...

...as my school didn't get a BBC-B until the year after I left.

The only reason I got into computers was my 1st job after leaving school in 1982 as a trainee computer operator. Before that I had never even seen a computer bigger than a TI Scientific calculator.

Although I don't quite believe these statistics; it is now possible to get the "equivalent of" 4 (maybe more) GCSEs in ICT. They are used by many schools to inflate the rankings as even those students who can hardly read and count on their fingers can pass some of them. With lots of help with course work and no requirement to understand the I the C or the T.

I have said for years that the ICT in schools should be renamed: "Basic Secretarial" studies - or just BS for short.

The problem is just about every politician and those in education, don't understand the first thing about computers, “so it must be hard and must be worthwhile teaching!”. But what would you expect from a bunch of “can't do so teach” types that cannot even spell IT.

Posted AC, as I'm related to a teacher and don't want to risk causing them trouble.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I'm guessing I am a tad older...

"The only reason I got into computers was my 1st job after leaving school in 1982 as a trainee computer operator. Before that I had never even seen a computer bigger than a TI Scientific calculator."

Before that I had never even seen a computer smaller than a house.

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FAIL

@ Laurence Blunt

>>> Posted AC, as I'm related to a teacher and don't want to risk causing them trouble.

Hope you're not married to one, or you're spending tonight in the spare room. LAURENCE! Lol.

Tee Hee!

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Megaphone

Teach them something useful

Every time I talk with an IT / ICT teacher I _always_ say teach the kids to touch type. This is a skill which is quite easy to teach and will be useful through out their lives.

Schools shouldn't bother with teaching word processing or spreadsheets. What ever the school is teaching will be out of date by the time that the kids get into the work place (well those that decide to work that is.) But even dole scum can use touch typing to speed the filling of on line benefit forms.

In the UK the qwerty keyboard is the main interface with the computer, and no one is trying to teach the kids how to use it.

</rant>

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My daughter can type way faster than me...

She's fourteen, and on the last on-line test I saw her do, she managed 75 WPM / 100% accuracy. That's as fast than my Mum can do, and she was a "proper" typist / secretary / PA for forty odd years.

Most of my daughter's mates still use txt tlk on MSN or Facebook chat, but she rattles out proper sentences, with punctuation. It makes me proud, it really does.

It will take a bit more practise before she can beat the 160+ WPM Mum could take short-hand at though! That's just unnatural!

As an aside, daughter's school, (Maths and Computing College), have just bought a classroom full of Macbooks, and then put Boot Camp / XP on them. WTF!!! How much did that little exercise cost? And who sanctioned it? Why?

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Ah, can you smell that?

That, my friends, is the smell of job security. Which is good, because any pension arrangements you might have thought you had will be worth shit all in twenty years unless you have been very clever indeed.

GJC

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Gates Halo

A

Nobody does "A-Level" Computing because it's not a proper subject. A friend of mine was laughed out of a University interview for Computer Science when he revealed that he had done Computing (after not realising that Computer Science requires maths, further maths and a science). Schools should clearly explain what A-Levels are suitable for studying Computer Science at University instead of pushing "Computing" which teaches you too little about actual Computer Science.

As for the "them kids under 20 know how to use them computers" conversation, I meet plenty of under twenties who don't know how to use a PC or write a report using a word processor. Those skills should be part of learning other subjects (such as English), rather than having their own elective unit.

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Grenade

Good

With a few, very few, honourable exceptions, everyone in this industry that I have met with formal qualifiications in IT or, if they're old enough, CompSci, has been a waste of air, space, pay and rations. Thinking that they were tapping into the Industry Of The Age they struggled their way through the course and emerged, degree in hand, to be shocked by what they didn't know.

Apart from the few, very few, honourable exceptions, everyone in this industry that I have met who had brought something to the table has got there despite the lack of formal qualifications, simply through an all-consuming interest in what they were doing and the drive to know more and do more with it. You can't make a programmer, a truly great admin or a brilliant designer; the best that you can do is find them then let them loose. I can't speak for project managers or architects as they are actually engaged in IT, per se, but for those at the sharp end don't look for a piece of paper.

So, if the ICT teachers are weeding out more and more potential space-wasters then more power to their collective elbow. Keep up the good work. Keep them away from me, I've wasted enough time now and I've got work that needs to be done,

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Pint

Well said that woman!

I was that unqualified, died in the wool, build your own computer with a command line, geek, given a chance by a small start up company. After five years there, and growing from 15 to 150 employees, they were taking on MCSE / CCNE/A types who couldn't tell a modem from a Paknet Pad. (Look them up !) Fucking morons every last one of them. Needless to say, I left.

They sent me on a couple of "MS approved" courses. What a joke! Two grand to tell me stuff that I either already knew, or could easily have worked out in five minutes with the judicious use of the F1 key. But at least I got a couple of nice A4 Microsoft Approved Training Certificates out of it... Only £1,000 a page!

Right. That's three replies on one thread. Time to chill out a bit... A beer will do nicely, thanks. And have one yourself Grace!

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Anonymous Coward

I'm like

just cos you gotta shit don't mean you want to work in sewage disposal. i fail to see why anyone thinks there should necessarily be any connection between using technology and understanding how it works.

Also education is not pre-employment training - it doesn''t have to be applicable to work, it educates

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True, but from a won't- get- suckered POV,

it would behoove most yoofs to know enough about how their important gadgets (computers, cars) work and what the major/ important bits are so that, at minimum, they will have a vague idea whether the repair people are selling them a load of shite. I make no great claim to automotive mechanical greatness, but I took a basic engine mechanics and body work class in high school so I could have an idea of how my car worked and a vague idea of what might be causing problems so I could wipe some of the "gullible" stamp off my forehead before approaching a mechanic.

However, it sounds from this discussion like most ICT (sounds like "ick", dunnit?) classes are not even teaching that modest amount.

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a title

It was over 15 years ago but my GCSE computing had basic programming and a lot of book learning (half the classes did not involve a computer).

There was a class next door who were basically secretaries though - perhaps some school don't offer the real computing GCSE any more, I'm sure it's out there.

As to learning skills relevant for jobs after school, I don't really think education is the best place to learn that, they should instill an ability to learn while giving you some certificate with a grade on it that gives employers some idea of your ability.

Anyone who thinks a computer science degree means you can walk into a job and ber useful has never interviewed for a graduate post, it just gives the employer and idea that you will be able to learn the skills you need once you start. I don't see that secondary school is any different.

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Anonymous Coward

They don't teach IT

They teach office administration skills, which today (if you want a career that involves office work), is almost as important as being able to write.

They need to have a grasp of how to use word processors and everyday office systems, but they should call it something else such as "Workplace Office Skills" and it should be mandatory like english or maths. And yes, it does sound boring, because it is.

I remember at school doing all the word processing and document formating and all the time I was thinking we would be doing the cool stuff later. We didn't.

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FAIL

Title

When I did an ICT A-Level, the exam paper included the following question:

Explain how computers have helped in any 2 of the following areas: Home life, manufacturing, healthcare, finance, <some others>

Frankly, the ICT course had sweet F-A to do with using a computer - It was all the boring stuff associated with it (and no, the DPA 1998 ISN'T interesting enough to study for 2 weeks when you're 17)

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FAIL

A favourite saying by Shaw comes to mind...*

Applies aptly here...

But seriously...

No wonder it's a bloody mess... If you were good at "IT", would you choose to work for pittance? esp. doing affectively what is day care?

<rant>

The government really needs to look at long and hard at education spending, and esp. teacher pay. But for those that brave the piss poor pay, and the crappy working conditions (let's face it, most schools are fairly dilapidated, resources are barely adequate and frankly the kids can't be disciplined and so likely to get away with whatever crap they want to), the paper work and bureaucracy is enough to drive anyone nuts (lesson plans and all that BS!) Folks just end up doing the bare minimum to meet the needs of the curriculum and that's it - heck they aren't paid to do more! With better pay, the education system is likely to attract better candidates, most likely the kids will end up with a better level of teaching etc.

But no, we're following the US model... We'll have a nation full of folks educated to level competent enough for shelf stacking.. just in time for there being a Tesco on every fucking road!

The other option, for those that can afford, is to go private - and frankly, as it stands, the only way to get a decent education in the UK! So much for bridging the class divide...

</rant>

* for those who haven't read widely: "He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches...", I personally prefer...

'

"Those who can, do; those who can't, teach." Like most sayings, this is only half true. Those who can, teach; those who can't -- the bitter, the misguided, the failures from other fields -- find in the school system an excuse or a refuge.

'

--Bel Kaufman

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Teaching IT in secondary schools

I like the notion of building a database-driven website as a good basis for IT in schools as it covers a fair number of the areas in IT. It may also prove a moderately useful skill or hobby to the students in years to come.

With this website, one could introduce the following topics in a practical way:

• systems architecture and planning

• the internet and how it works

• security

• servers and clients

• webservers and browsers

• ISPs and bandwidth

• HTML, CSS and client-side and server-side scripting

• designing websites and usability,

• databases and simple querying.

It might a year or two to build the thing but there is enough material there for exams as well as a good practical foundation for the working world. It's not proper Computer Science but it may give them a taste of/for it. Of course, the state exams would have to change...

Just my 2c

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