Saturday, 14 January 2012

How to replace the School ICT Curriculum



I haven't coded for a long time. A long time.

Although I made a living in the early 80's writing management information systems in AppleSoft BASIC, and after my software engineering degree I worked for a while as rather mediocre Ada programmer on military information systems, I was never one of the worlds most accomplished computer programmers.

I was however fortunate enough to be born at the right time to receive a proper education in computer studies. Although my rather BASIC understanding of how to construct loops, branches and subroutines and how to manipulate strings and define multi dimensional arrays seems somewhat detached from my current daily working activities, it nonetheless provides me with a much greater insight and appreciation of the inner workings of the more complex applications I now use.

In much the same way as my admiration of English and literature in later life, has subsequently made me aware of my loss in not receiving a classical education, perhaps future IT consultants will, on realisation, mourn their loss at never having had the opportunity to load the accumulator or pop the stack when dabbling in ancient assembly languages.

The recent government announcements to scrap the current IT curriculums that merely instruct our children on how to use computers to become efficient office lackeys, in favour of a return to more creative and development based IT education is therefore most welcome on my part.

However, there is another method from the early 80's that we could also redeploy to achieve these laudable aims in adolescent IT literacy. By reinstalling ZX Spectrums, Acorn Electron's, Oric 1's and even the occasional Dragon 32 in WH Smiths, the youth will once again be unwittingly self-instructed in the art of writing short, memory efficient programs that display amusing profanities and the sexual preferences of their friends on the TV monitors before the store manager realises what they've done, or have indeed calculated how to terminate their witty little programs.

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