The Royal Society wants every UK Child to learn Computing
The Royal Society’s report on “Computing in Schools” was released yesterday, and it makes broad and significant recommendations. Much of the report is focused on preparing teachers for a rigorous computer science curriculum, and on creating an infrastructure in schools where computing is available and maintained. The report is frank and honest about the challenges of implementing a rigorous computer science curriculum in schools.
I am most excited for what the report recommends about the curriculum. The overall goal is “Every child should have the opportunity to learn Computing at school.” The specifics include:
- Every child should be expected to be ‘digitally literate’ by the end of compulsory education, in the same way that every child is expected to be able to read and write.
- Every child should have the opportunity to learn concepts and principles from Computing (including Computer Science and Information Technology) from the beginning of primary education onwards, and by age 14 should be able to choose to study towards a recognised qualification in these areas.
Given the lack of specialist teachers, we recommend that only the teaching of digital literacy is made statutory at this point. However, the long-term aim should be to move to a
situation where there are sufficient specialist teachers to enable all young people to study
Information Technology and Computer Science at school. Accordingly, the Government should put in place an action plan to achieve this.
“Statutory” courses (and the report goes into some detail about what “statutory” means and why they make that recommendation)! Computing for everyone! Think about what you could do in science, mathematics, and business classes if you could assume that everyone knew something about computer science from age 14. Maybe Seymour Papert’s vision of computing being used to create a “Mathland” could finally be realized in the UK. Think about how higher education computer science would change if you could assume several years of introductory computer science already. Here in the US? Well, we’ll always have drills and drafting tables.