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.