Communicator (communicator) wrote,

Back to the future

People might be interested to read the new computing curriculum which I was talking about last week. It's online here. I am a bit of a connoisseur of computing curricula, because I have been on several working groups which developed them, the earliest was under the previous Tory government in the mid-1990s, before the Internet was significant in education. I have also worked with a range of curricula used in different countries. This one is very old fashioned, and it's stress is on what they call computational thinking.
Computational thinking: a mode of thought that goes well beyond software and hardware and that provides a framework within which to reason about systems and problems... computational thinking influences fields such as biology, chemistry, linguistics, psychology, economics and statistics.

What this means in practice is algorithm-based structured problem solving, with reusable modules or procedures, input and output. In my opinion this is a false model of human reasoning (underpinning Evo Psych for example). So I have one issue, with the poor model of problem solving. If you look at the PDF which I have linked to above, pages 5-10 are a rather brief overview of computing as a discipline, and pages 11-14 are a discussion of computational thinking: modularity, modelling and abstraction. Anyone who has worked in philosophy or psychology will appreciate the problems raised by this section. I could go on at length and I might another time.

Pages 15-19 are content, and 20-22 are level descriptions (that is, the hierarchy of learning over time). I have seen this all before. It is the typical computing curriculum you see in the developing world, and it was the curriculum in use in the UK in the 1980s: Algorithms, truth tables, relational operators, binary numbers, two's complement, logic gates, and a bit of new stuff about protocols and packet switching. 'Write a flowchart to show the process involved in making a cup of tea'. Do me a favour! I have seen this dull exercise presented as a 'clever idea' by every blooming old man who writes a curriculum since the 1980s. After all that fanfare it is stodgy stuff. However I can write to it very easily, it's really back to the future, putting aside all the uncomfortable modern stuff. Another issue of course is that this is not mandatory either in whole or part, so schools can offer no use of technology at all.
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