British experts blame lack of IT professionals on schools

March 4, 2010 at 11:55 am Leave a comment

At an “E-Skills” event a couple days ago, the UK IT industry was bemoaning the lack of enough professionals — same issues as in the US.  Interestingly, the British Computer Society CEO thinks that the problem is with the schools.

However, British Computer Society chief executive David Clarke believes that more ICT professionals and those with high IQs can be encouraged into the sector only if the teaching of IT at school is changed.

“Young people could not be more engaged in IT. They are more switched on than the rest of us, so what’s the problem?” he said.

via Skills experts bemoan poor IT teaching – – formerly

I used to believe that Clarke is right, but as Eric Roberts convinced me, it’s at most a secondary effect.  Our curriculum and teaching style hasn’t changed that much since 2000/2001 when we had lots of students.  Now, when things are bad, poor teaching and bad curriculum may have more of an effect.  But given how few high school CS teachers there are (only about 2000 AP CS teachers in the US, so around 40 per state — and they’re not uniformly distributed), and how few students are going into our CS classes, it’s not clear how poor teaching could be influencing that many students.  I’ve heard the argument, “Students talk! High school students hear from the College students what it’s like!”  Not that we can trace.  Sure, it happens some, but not very much.  Teachers, parents, peers, and media (social and network) all have much bigger influences.

Poor IT teaching may play a role in low numbers of professionals, but even great teaching is unlikely to drive up the numbers.

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