As a workshop developer for a Welsh project called Technocamps, I spend my working life trying to encourage young people and teachers into computing nad computing careers. So imagine my utter joy when I hear that ICT in schools will be replaced by computer science. My initial reaction: YIPEEEEEEEE.
Then FEAR. Who is going to teach this? A high majority of our future computer science teachers do not come from a computing background, let alone an ICT background. According to the general teaching council of the 28,000 who became teachers in 2010, only THREE had a computing related degree.
Before I started work on the Technocamps project I did my PhD looking at why there aren’t enough women in computing and then did my postdoc looking at something similar. I published papers, researched and was seen as some sort of expert in the area of getting kids into computing. However, I had only been seeing things from one aspect. I did not realize the amount of support and encouragement that schools will need to teach a computer science curriculum. Schools which I had observed, have issues with the current ICT Curriculum.
In order for this reform to work we need to upskill teachers, not a one day training course or a light evening session, they need consistent support. It takes computer science graduates three years to be experts in the subject computer science, teachers need a similar type of training. We need to remember that computing is not as easy as ICT and therefore need to make sure we do not put young people of by having unskilled teachers.
When computers were first introduced into secondary schools, teachers did not know what to do with them and a lot of money was pumped into teacher training and equipment. This training was a session on computers, however this was not enough to increase their confidence in teaching computers. Young people know more about computers than teachers and are able to tell if the teacher is not confident in teaching a subject, which is why its important the right training and support is given.
I am really glad that we are looking up and taking an interest in IT education, however I hope it isn’t a one off speech and I hope that thought has been given about the consequences in terms of the quality of education out young people receive.
[updated 11th January 2013, 16:07 – minor grammar issues!]