This year, a revolution for schools was announced to sweep through the education system in England. It involves a new way of teaching kids about computing – rather than teaching children how to physically use a computer, children will now have the opportunity to learn programming skills. With the news of the Prime Minister putting his support behind a push to give students in schools across England an opportunity to expand their technology skills, a new GCSE in Computer Science came into effect in September – yes, indeed, with the explosion of digital, children can now start learning coding skills from the age of 5! The curriculum aims to “ensure that all pupils can understand and apply the fundamental principles and concepts of computer science”.
What does this mean for the future?
Technology is now at the forefront of everything we do, children from the age of 1 can now work iPads – technology has become a normality of life so it’s no wonder coding classes will be coming into effect within schools. Soon, Silicon Valley will be greeted with a much younger workforce offering their digital development skills. We’ve already seen an explosion in digital in the last 30 years from creation of the internet, to the explosion of social media, various devices and now wearable tech. This exciting news about coding in schools will only add to this digital surge in creating new inventions.
Will we become robots?
I don’t think teaching these new skills to students in schools will make us any further disconnected from ‘the real world’ than we currently are, however, I think the way we depend on technology will become stronger (I carry my iphone with me at all times!). It will also place children in a better position when reaching secondary and third level education should they have a strong interest in the subject area as, traditionally, programming is something only taught at third level education.
Is 5 too young? Can parents support this learning?
The thought does seem daunting, but like everything to do with learning and development, children will start with the basics. Children aged 5-7 are said to be taught the following:
- Algorithms – understand what they are, how to put them in place as programs on devices and how programs are executed
- Programs – how to create and dug, using logical reasoning to predict behaviours of simple programs
Each school will have different methods in rolling these teachings out, some setting computer lessons aside, while other teachers may introduce these concepts throughout the day to children. The BBC reported that there has already been plenty support from volunteers who have set up clubs within schools to support ‘teaching children how to make mobile apps, others introducing the Raspberry Pi and similar cheap computing devices.’ No doubt there will be teething problems as this revolutionary introduction is made to schools but it is exciting that children will have the opportunity to enjoy the creative possibilities that digital technology can offer.
Developers – start watching out for the younger talent!