The Computing and ICT Debate: You Say Big-O, I Say Asymptotic Notation

Yesterday the Guardian, as part of it’s week long ICT Teacher Takeover, published “Computer science or ICT: which would serve our pupils better?“. It was a friendly setting out of stalls between Miles Berry (for Computing) and Chris Leach (for ICT).

And so the Computing and ICT debate continues to rumble on. In most quarters it’s a lively debate between peers. But I’m sensing a bit of tubthumping, particularly from the Computer Science camp and it’s a coming across as a wee bit disrespectful to the ICT teachers from where I sit.

All you need is love
All you need is love

Before I go on, I should declare I have a Computer Science degree and I’ve been a developer/manager of technical development teams for the last 17 years. I have a deep understanding of the academic subject and a strong technical ability to execute it. Along with that I have a young family and I’m very familiar with teaching technology to young children.

Basically, what I’m trying to say is that my background should probably put me in the ‘Computer Science’ camp but, well to be honest, I’ve never liked camping that much. I like Hotels. And Caravans. Whatever’s most appropriate really.

What I’m seeing as the Computing and ICT debate seems largely to be a bit of an opportunistic effort by the Computer Science community to get their subject understood and taken seriously by the wider population. As a marketing exercise Computer Science badly needs it but this is not the arena for it. There’s a danger of Computer Science looking like a flat track bully here.

Sadly, it’s triggered a defensive response by the ICT teachers who, quite rightly, are having to speak up and tell everyone that they don’t just teach children how to use Word – which having met a few of them is off the mark by some way.

Next month, I begin a six week pilot teaching children the 2014 Computing Curriculum and the material we’ve developed so far would be called ICT in Wales and in England it would be Computing.

Frankly, I don’t care what it’s called as long as this generation of children get the education and resources they need to find meaningful work in an increasingly technological world. Gove, for all his detractors, has set in motion a change that has the potential to make a big difference.

Computer technology’s greatest gift has always been meritocracy, let’s not get too precious about what we call it.



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