[clug] [OT] Any LA or CLUG reaction to the new ALP Policy

Eyal Lebedinsky eyal at eyal.emu.id.au
Mon May 18 18:12:25 MDT 2015

On 19/05/15 09:00, Alex Satrapa wrote:
>> On 18 May 2015, at 23:09, George at Clug <Clug at goproject.info> wrote:
>>     "Coding in schools" ?, 25 years ago I was speaking to a new
>> teacher in the work force who told me that when he was at school the
>> idea was to teach all the students how to program in machine code so
>> they could be ready for the digital age. He remarked what a stupid
>> idea that had been.
>> The reality was;
>> 1) machine code was rarely used by the time he left school.
>> 2) the number of programming jobs that eventuated was highly over
>> estimated.
> 3) The number of jobs where analytical thinking was required was much higher than expected.
> People use Excel for problem solving, they need to understand how to design for maintainability, how to debug, and how to protect the program from dodgy inputs.
> It doesn’t matter what “programming language” you use, the techniques are still required.
 > It’s basically the scientific method applied to a specific field: Determine what the problem is,
 > devise a possible solution, test that solution, review the results, which alters the definition
 > of the problem.

This is all very well but the issue I have with this is "why now?". The scientific method is
not new and analytical thinking existed for millennia. This has nothing to do with programming
specifically. I do not see why programming should be taken as a basic life skill like reading,
writing, numeracy etc.. This is a very specific, technical skill that has a place in engineering.

Calling it "coding" makes it sounds like a game fit for school but it is not. I am an IT professional
and can use programming to deal with many issues but Do not have to. Many of my friends cannot
write one line of code yet have a happy and satisfying life. If they could not read or write that
would be a very different story.

I do not see how coding can be placed in the same sentence as reading, writing, teamwork etc..

> I’d go further than just teaching programming, and integrate the courses through schools so that there’s a uniting project. One school might be working on solar racing cars, another might try rocketry (e.g.: with solid fuel or room-temperature liquid fuels with relatively low toxicity such as nitric/kerosene), another school might focus on small plot farming, and another might focus on high performance computing and physics simulations.
> After all, one of the main concerns of young students through the years has been, “really, when am I ever going to use this knowledge?"
> IMHO focussing on “what topics to teach” without thinking about “why to teach them” is a mistake.

I expect that in a few decades (or sooner) comput{ers,ing}* will be absorbed into everything without
being seen anymore. We are still going through a phase where this "new" technology is visible and
exciting (to some). When successful it will *not* be noticed.

> Alex


(*) on *this* list I am allowed to use this construct, but not much elsewhere.

Eyal Lebedinsky (eyal at eyal.emu.id.au)

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