On coding in schools

Gregor Kerr

How many times has the Minister announced Coding as his big new idea? I’ve lost count. But he seems to think if he just announces it enough times it will happen – nothing about the training necessary, nothing about the equipment necessary, nothing about the infrastructure such as wifi. And absolutely nothing useful about how Coding can and should become integrated into the Curriculum.

Yes, I would love to see Coding developed but right now we should be saying with this and every other initiative – show us the money. Fix pay inequality, restore the pay cuts and then come talk to us about change and doing extra work.

John Boyle

There is a view abroad that coding is the “literacy of the 21st Century” and that children should have the opportunity to learn it so that they can design, create and operate the apps and computers that will drive the world’s future economy. There’s no doubt that digital literacy has benefits for everyone in a world in which technology features so profoundly in everyday life.

It’s now 20 years since Steve Jobs said “everyone should learn how to programme a computer, because it teaches you how to think”. Well, I’m sorry, but my opinion after thirty years as an educator hasn’t changed – I do not believe that it is necessary for primary teachers to teach coding in order to teach their pupils how to think!

I believe that it’s more important for mankind, and especially for our young, to learn how to relate with each other than having to learn how to tell machines what to do.

Teachers are brilliant at identifying their pupils skills groups and then addressing the issue. If teachers are to address the perceived “digital skills gap”, they will need a lot more support from the government than the introducing of coding to the curriculum. Proper broadband, funding for modern infrastructure, tablets etc and a comprehensive inservice training programme will be pre-requisites. The small grants paid to primary schools recently do not augur very well.

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