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Remember when we used to code things?
The Government’s decision to completely re-assess and re-energise teaching of computer science in schools is a very welcome decision. They’ve identified that spending time teaching kids how to use Word and Power Point is pointless and dull, and they’re going to shift the emphasis to writing computer code instead.
Two giants from my very geeky childhood are behind this initiative: Ian Livingstone and David Braben both important entrepreneurs in the area of videogames. I grew up in the era where every school had a lab of BBC Micros (if you’re under 30, ask your dad) and the kids were actively encouraged to learn to program. Maybe a lot of this didn’t go far beyond getting a line of obscenities to scroll down a computer screen but firing kids’ imaginations with control of ‘robotic’ peripherals and data gathering was hugely powerful. The kids who really engaged with this grew up to power the UK’s dominant position in the videogame and computer modelling industry.
A lot of junior schools now have teachers with no real grasp of coding or any other form of engineering and so if we’re going to keep this momentum moving in all our technical disciplines it’s going to be up to us, in industry, to help. I’m a school governor in my spare time as I’m anxious to give back to the education system that gave so much to me and I’d encourage all the engineers and technologists reading this to give some time to their local schools to turn this initiative into a revolution and help a new generation of geeks make their impact on the world.