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General Chat Thread, The Michael Gove BETT Speech in General; Originally Posted by Ephelyon This isn't about nations, it's about the majority versus the minority of people and the respective ...
  1. #46

    LosOjos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ephelyon View Post
    This isn't about nations, it's about the majority versus the minority of people and the respective priorities for their needs.
    Errr... wrong thread?

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    tmcd35's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TechMonkey View Post
    One is that if you understand, at how ever basic a level, how something works or the thought behind it that you can use it/learn it better. That is why art lessons teach colour theory, perspectives, complementary colours. Having a basic understanding will help. Having the logic and understanding of what is under the hood helps to form a mental picture. Before you say it, no they will not need to learn how to program office to use it but it is a teaching method. Teaching basic theory of mechanics does help you drive better as you understand the forces acting on the car, what happens when you do certain things etc.
    This is where I have a problem with the concept of teaching 'coding'. When I learned to drive I was never asked to strip an engine in order to understand the mechanics of how it works, I was taught the function of the accellerator, and clutch and radiator, and their general relation to one another. I've talked before about how computers work through layers of abstraction. And while it's software that pulls off the trickery, you don't need to write code to understand how one component/theory effects the next.

    To me coding feels like too low a level, much like striping a car engine to learn to drive. Much better to learn the function of the CPU, and the RAM, and the GPU and how they relate to one another. Unless we're coding Assembler, programming seems the wrong tool for the job. Writing programs in Scratch isn't really so far removed from Powerpoint presentations. You get an end result, but does it really explain any of the magic under the hood that's producing the results?

    Coding is a useful skill and good for logical thinking. It most certainly should be taught (part of Maths IMHO ). But it feels like there's too much focus on one layer of computing and missing some of the more important stuff that might give better light bulb moments to students wondering how the magic actually happens.

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    Ephelyon (23rd January 2014)

  4. #48

    Ephelyon's Avatar
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    I was responding to @TechMonkey's point about a nation of users. Having said that, maybe it's because I've just got too cynical about Britain anyway... =]

  5. #49

    localzuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tmcd35 View Post
    This is where I have a problem with the concept of teaching 'coding'. When I learned to drive I was never asked to strip an engine in order to understand the mechanics of how it works, I was taught the function of the accellerator, and clutch and radiator, and their general relation to one another. I've talked before about how computers work through layers of abstraction. And while it's software that pulls off the trickery, you don't need to write code to understand how one component/theory effects the next.
    Funny you'd bring up learning to drive. The modern theory test includes questions on maintenance of your car. Eg. Knowing how to check oil levels, knowing how power assisted steering works, engine coolant levels, how to check parking break wear etc...

    To me coding feels like too low a level, much like striping a car engine to learn to drive. Much better to learn the function of the CPU, and the RAM, and the GPU and how they relate to one another. Unless we're coding Assembler, programming seems the wrong tool for the job. Writing programs in Scratch isn't really so far removed from Powerpoint presentations. You get an end result, but does it really explain any of the magic under the hood that's producing the results?

    Coding is a useful skill and good for logical thinking. It most certainly should be taught (part of Maths IMHO ). But it feels like there's too much focus on one layer of computing and missing some of the more important stuff that might give better light bulb moments to students wondering how the magic actually happens.
    Most of computing is coding to be honest. Things like CPU/RAM etc... can be taught in a single lesson at the level we're talking. But teaching the logic of coding? That's a big task to work through.

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    LosOjos's Avatar
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    I think some people are too focused on coding as a job and are missing the fundamental logic and problem solving skills it can teach which will feed in to all areas of life.

    Even if a child never writes another line of code in their life once they finish state education, the ability to work through a problem logically will be invaluable to them for the rest of their life.

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    Right, except I apply the same logical thinking about problem-solving skills in both Systems Administration and End-User Support (as professional disciplines... hehehe!) without having ever studied "coding". I also know plenty of programmers who still require support with e.g. Registry editing and etc because it's outside their skillset. Applying such a broad definition to the term "coding", especially in the context of the new curriculum, will inevitably lead to either confusion about what's required, or everything doing a different thing, or both.

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    LosOjos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ephelyon View Post
    Right, except I apply the same logical thinking about problem-solving skills in both Systems Administration and End-User Support (as professional disciplines... hehehe!) without having ever studied "coding". I also know plenty of programmers who still require support with e.g. Registry editing and etc because it's outside their skillset. Applying such a broad definition to the term "coding", especially in the context of the new curriculum, will inevitably lead to either confusion about what's required, or everything doing a different thing, or both.
    Yes, but not everyone instinctively has those problem solving skills. Techies, by our very nature, do tend to have these skills. I know coding isn't the be all and end all, but you have to pick something, you can't teach everything, and coding is broad enough to be used in many different areas of IT, not just network management, plus it's the simplest way (IMO) to teach said problem solving and logic.

    Look at Scratch - not what many would call "coding" per se but it allows you to quickly demonstrate how logic can control the flow of a program.

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    I agree with everything you say there, except for the fact that some will have a natural inclination towards those problem-solving skills whereas others can (and will) learn it.

    But the point that I think @tmcd35 and I are making is that we're very much in danger of it becoming the be all and end all because it's not being taught in context, instead being very much presented as the totality of it. We here may all know that's not the case, but the people it's being presented to don't and that's the point.

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    Garacesh (23rd January 2014), tmcd35 (23rd January 2014)

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    localzuk's Avatar
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    That's the thing though, the curriculum doesn't make coding the be-all and end all of it. Just the headlines do.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LosOjos View Post
    Yes, but not everyone instinctively has those problem solving skills. Techies, by our very nature, do tend to have these skills. I know coding isn't the be all and end all, but you have to pick something, you can't teach everything, and coding is broad enough to be used in many different areas of IT, not just network management, plus it's the simplest way (IMO) to teach said problem solving and logic.

    Look at Scratch - not what many would call "coding" per se but it allows you to quickly demonstrate how logic can control the flow of a program.
    I've not looked at Scratch, but realistically unless it employs IF/ELSEIF/ELSE and some form of conditional WHILE/LOOP then I can't see it being more than a glorified powerpoint. But like I say, I've not played with it. I know our IT suits have it, though.

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    ^This (EDIT: too meny quick posts, responding to @Ephelyon)

    During the previous thread on the subject I went off and actually read the propossed new curriculum details. While other areas of IT are mentioned, it seems very skewed towards coding almost to the exclusion of all else. This to my mind is almost as bad as just teaching Word/Excel/Powerpoint. It's also in danger of trying to fixed one perserved industry problem - not enough programming graduates - and not fullfilling it's educational function, teaching kids how computers actually work.

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    Quote Originally Posted by localzuk View Post
    Just the headlines do.
    ... which is:

    (a) what will be remembered;
    (b) what media coverage will focus on;
    (c) what people who actually do know the distinction will hear, but without any context.

    What's in the headlines is extremely important as that's the "image" of what's going on. It's also what people who don't know the context of it will pick up on. So there will be a disparity between what policy-makers believe is going on and what is actually going on, with the added problem that what is actually going on could be anybody's guess between different places.
    Last edited by Ephelyon; 23rd January 2014 at 02:55 PM.

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    I remember in Year 7, we started using Flowol, which I found most people actually enjoyed (OK, it's not exactly 'coding' however it is working out problems logically with flowcharts etc) and also coding websites using basic HTML Notepad, and at GCSE in Electronics having to use Yenka to program PIC Chips.

    However, this was then replaced (when I was in Year 8) by ICT 4 Life, which I believe is just office training, and only teaches how to make pretty things in Office and cool animations/videos. With that and OCR/Cambridge Nationals, things have definitely changed more to the IT (using the applications) from the more logical aspect, which I believe is wrong and there should be a good balance between the two.

    My mum (who is a TA in Reception/Year 1) says it would be hard to get 5 year olds to start coding as there are children who can't understand the co-ordination of how moving their finger on the trackpad moves the mouse on the screen, and that there are children who have never even seen a computer before they started school.

    Then again, according to Gove she is only a 'mum helper'.

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    LosOjos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Garacesh View Post
    I've not looked at Scratch, but realistically unless it employs IF/ELSEIF/ELSE and some form of conditional WHILE/LOOP then I can't see it being more than a glorified powerpoint. But like I say, I've not played with it. I know our IT suits have it, though.
    It uses all of those things

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    On a different note, considering this is a debate I've had over on TES as well, what do we think about languages? The general feeling over there from the teachers seemed to be that Python ought to be sufficient to satisfy the demands of the new curriculum, which I'd agree with.

    Anyone else? Should we need things like C++ for example?

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