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General Chat Thread, CS Teacher has a pop at "IT Professionals" in General; Originally Posted by Garacesh I'd have to respectfully disagree (as people often do in discussions), It's not very clear who ...
  1. #16


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    Quote Originally Posted by Garacesh View Post
    I'd have to respectfully disagree (as people often do in discussions),
    It's not very clear who you are disagreeing with or exactly what you are disagreeing with.
    There's no need to keep them using the 'toy' for longer than they have to.
    So how long is that? I doubt there is much slack in the amount of time teachers have to teach the concepts and knowledge required by the examining authority. The tools they do choose need to be efficient in not getting in the way of that.

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    @pcstru, you and @Chris_Cook both replied whilst I was writing mine out, I edited my post accordingly

    In this case, the 'Toy' I refer to is Scratch, given that's what the article mentions. Like I say, at 1 lesson a week, half of year 7 should be enough to give them an sufficient introduction. I feel that using visual interfaces stifles your ability to learn, as sooner or later you want to break free of the constraints the program imposes.

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    Ephelyon's Avatar
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    We have to bear in mind differentiation here. Not everyone will get it in a few months; some will struggle even after a few years. You can easily keep Scratch in use in the classroom for lower-ability sets throughout Key Stage 3 while working in something more advanced for the upper sets. It's probably fairly safe to assume that the kids in the lower-ability KS3 sets aren't going to take the subject further at KS4. Accordingly, some would argue that Python should be in play at KS3 for the upper sets (assuming you get the hours/week to do it properly, which is where some schools will fall down) and that KS4 Computing, as an elective option, should allow more freedom for development in object-oriented Java (for example) because these are the kids who definitely decided they want to study this. That's where your VMs or isolated labs would then come in.
    Last edited by Ephelyon; 5th June 2014 at 03:18 PM.

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    Teaching independent learning skills is a discipline in itself - it is not in any way winging it. Building Learning Power would be a good example of a 'cultural tool kit' which can be deployed across a whole school. IMO it is more important than ever that students have these skills but I have a very strong opinion that students must be (at some point) taught how to think, not what to think. Personally, I'd scrap ICT in favour of philosophy any day - although it would be a bit of a shame if it had to come to such a choice!

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    Misconception #3 : A teacher who doesnít have up to date flawless subject knowledge isnít fit to stand in the classroom.
    Try teaching physics. Not even the real top flight egg heads have "flawless subject knowledge"; it is in flux, it changes all the time. And for most teachers of kids at secondary age, that is fine. "Lies to children" is still a useful tool, when the truth is too complex for them to grasp early on. "Light travels in straight lines" - Nope.

    We teach Latin here, but not programming.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew_C View Post
    Try teaching physics. Not even the real top flight egg heads have "flawless subject knowledge"; it is in flux, it changes all the time. And for most teachers of kids at secondary age, that is fine. "Lies to children" is still a useful tool, when the truth is too complex for them to grasp early on. "Light travels in straight lines" - Nope.

    We teach Latin here, but not programming.
    true but with physics you need to explain it in bits then explain/demonstrate why thats not quite actually the case teaching at a level they can understand and while for example light dosent travel in a straight line is correct enough for most purposes whereas with coding i cant see much excuse for teaching sloppy coding it generally causes more issues and often takes longer than doing it right first time. I wish i always documented my code properly as come back to it a year later and i have no idea how it works

  7. #22


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    Quote Originally Posted by sted View Post
    i cant see much excuse for teaching sloppy coding it generally causes more issues and often takes longer than doing it right first time.
    But the point of someone writing a program in education is not to get it right first time or to deal with all the issues that might arise or even necessarily write code that works. You are falling at the first hurdle : Misconception #1.
    I wish i always documented my code properly as come back to it a year later and i have no idea how it works
    I once employed a programmer who wrote 10,000 lines of code in a few weeks, without including a single comment. I was a little bit miffed! The reality was that code would be used only by him so it was more important that he was incredibly productive than that he wrote comprehensible, maintainable code.

    Another anecdote : I once re-wrote a financial report which took 20 hours to run and got it down to under a minute. The code I was given would have been comprehensible to anyone and could probably have been maintained by some of our teachers. The code I spat out, I could hardly follow. I could hardly describe such code as "good" and yet, for what was needed it was good.

    Bad habits I'm somewhat ambivalent about in education. I started programming when I was 12, on machines with 8K of memory using BASIC. Variables names were A, B, C etc by design and "if then goto's" were just the thing for program flow. Bad habits were the very tools of squeezing every ounce of an 8K BASIC program. It was 8 years before my minds eye was really opened to the elegance of a strongly typed structured Pascal. If you teach anyone assembler targeted at a specific processor, you are going to quickly shrug your shoulders at the "social ettiquette" of a typical general purpose high level language.

    Good programming skills are simply this : good logical/numerical problem solving skills (your talent), a knowledge of programming techniques and 'platforms' (your toolbox), an ability to express that using the available tools - which might be anything from scratch to assembler targeted at the 12 bit Microchip PIC family. If you are a professional programmer then you should be very flexible about the last - it's just another language, another platform.

    Personally I think scratch and python are probably great for teaching because they are easy for teachers to grasp and if they can't understand what they need their students to understand, then the game is lost before it's started. I really can't see that any language is, of itself, an impediment to someone learning to program.

  8. 2 Thanks to pcstru:

    AButters (6th June 2014), Hokalus (6th June 2014)

  9. #23

    Andrew_C's Avatar
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    I think that my main point is that with (particularly young) kids, you need to teach them something accessible at their level. There is little benefit teaching them the latest most powerful language if they can't get it to do something. Teach them to walk first, even if for the rest of their lives they will be swimming.

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    synaesthesia's Avatar
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    Exactly this. No point getting them to do anything physical until you've shown them how to warm up their limbs!

  11. Thanks to synaesthesia from:

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    mthomas08's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by d0pefish View Post
    While I can understand the frustrations in there, there's also some flawed logic:
    No, you know more than me about teaching, or being a teacher, in general.
    I completely agree.

    This part I also completely disagree with though: "It is a school’s job to churn out students who will be able to walk into a job in industry on day one and work in whatever language/paradigm is flavour du jour. - WRONG"

    If this statement is wrong why are Head Teachers, Deputy Heads, SLT and most Teachers using this exact statement for every subject, education in general and one of their biggest advertising lines for Schools to Parents. It's worded 100 ways but all means the same thing "Its the Schools job to educate the Students as much as possible ready for the world".

    Some of the comments are right though that some coder's (some times IT in general) may not be the best socially adapted people. I knew one some time ago, was happy sitting in an office all day every day without saying a word. Then again that has nothing to do with her actual argument that she should be teaching what she see fits. There is a reason why Schools tend to use Office, Windows, Macromedia (or Adobe), Photoshop and all the other software for the last 10+ Years because its all pretty industry standard.

    You can do things differently but if in general it educates them to the point where an employer will be attracted to that Student then the Teacher's job is done.

    She used the example that she would be proud to have her Students create a program to say Hello World, BUT an Employer isn't going to care about that. They are going to care if the Student can create a program or maintain something already built. In today's world an employer will be more attracted to the bigger picture.

    It's like for Teachers, there is no point in Teaching in English if you can speak, read and write in the language its about fully understanding the art of English (so to speak). A good example for that would be understanding Macbeth not just knowing the story.

    I know a little bit about coding but I wouldn't be proud if I made a calculator I would be proud if I did something that made a difference to my job or the School. Her entire post sounds too much like a rant to coders but guess what in a few Years time she will probably be screaming at them to fix her problems and she will blame them for it. Her School could end up employing one and she wont take a bit of notice of the coder yet try to purposely cause problems - instead of concentrating on the actual job at hand which is Educating our Youth in programing.
    Last edited by mthomas08; 6th June 2014 at 09:35 AM.

  13. Thanks to mthomas08 from:

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  14. #26


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    Quote Originally Posted by pcstru View Post
    But the point of someone writing a program in education is not to get it right first time or to deal with all the issues that might arise or even necessarily write code that works. You are falling at the first hurdle : Misconception #1.
    i dont disagree that the point is to get the kids to do something that works but why not try to get something that works well? I suppose it depends on the bunch of kids some will take to it some wont. But as others above have said in english you are in theory at least taught to understand a book rather than just read it why should coding be different taught to code logically for want of a better world rather than just throw a few commands down and get a result

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    Ephelyon's Avatar
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    It is the school's job to provide part of that education. At secondary phase it is their job to generate the interest in subjects for future study, not to prepare them fully for everything they will ever need to know, nor to make them employment-ready the September after their exams. Remember when even university wasn't supposed to be all that work-related?

    What we do at secondary phase is very important, but it shouldn't be confused with providing the full picture. One thing that does annoy me is people coming along with the idea that "if we don't teach them X now, they'll never learn it" - they don't actually say it but you can tell from the look of desperation in the eyes - because it simply isn't true. Again, the school is not the last bastion for work-related skills; it is (among) the first. There will be plenty of time later to learn how things actually work in the real world.

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    [QUOTE=sted;1181937]i dont disagree that the point is to get the kids to do something that works but why not try to get something that works well?
    [quote]
    Because what works well is beyond the scope of learning to code. See my examples of my 10,000 line programmer or the 1 minute report. The point is to teach people to code, not to produce software that could be used in anger.
    I suppose it depends on the bunch of kids some will take to it some wont. But as others above have said in english you are in theory at least taught to understand a book rather than just read it why should coding be different taught to code logically for want of a better world rather than just throw a few commands down and get a result
    Who says it is just "throwing a few commands down to get a result"? It is about teaching people to think systematically and logically, how to break down problems into smaller manageable chunks and how the constructs available in most languages are able to be combined into programs to solve those chunks.

    We do teach people to read and part of that is comprehension. We don't expect students to be able to pop down the local newspaper and get paid to write copy, or be able to write a whole book or be able to arbitrarily entertain others with their writing. That is the same difference - the difference between learning competency in a skill and being a professional who someone will pay for the end products of using that skill in anger.

    I don't know of any software house that would employ people straight out of school as a matter of course (it does happen but it is rare) and no one expects the new curriculum to really change that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pcstru View Post
    We don't expect students to be able to pop down the local newspaper and get paid to write copy, or be able to write a whole book or be able to arbitrarily entertain others with their writing. That is the same difference - the difference between learning competency in a skill and being a professional who someone will pay for the end products of using that skill in anger.
    No, we don't expect every kid with an English GCSE to kick out the next best-selling novel, but we do expect them to leave school with the ability to write legible, grammatically correct, well-thought out essays with a reasonably varied vocabulary. Why should we not expect children to leave being able to write legible, correctly syntaxed, logical scripts with use of reasonably varied commands?

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    Because it's much less of a life skill, regardless of what anyone says.

    Also, depending on how well they do on that course (bearing in mind it's a core subject so they don't have much of a choice), not all of them will leave with the ability to write like that.

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