Mr Gove, ICT can be computer science and liberal arts

We welcome the government’s new emphasis on developing computer science in schools. We have tried to promote this in our school through Logo and Scratch programming. We are currently investigating Kodu, Kidsruby and Arduino to develop this learning further. However we don’t just cover these areas for the children’s IT skills but also to develop their Personal Learning and Thinking Skills (PLTS). We believe there is great value in the problem solving, project based and intrinsically rewarding aspects of programming.

It is my concern that the government’s discussion around computer science and maths is presenting a binary distinction between computer science and other ICT. I agree that the soulless coverage of Microsoft Office doesn’t develop computer science, PLTS or a great deal of creativity; but this has more to do with the quality of the teaching and learning experiences with ICT (and possibly a lot to do with staff expertise). When Steve Jobs talked about technology married with the liberal arts he was capturing the aspect of how ICT can lead to a kind of expression and creativity which is more than just the technology. Too many educators and discussions around ‘digital natives‘ have focused on the idea that as long as children use technology then it is having an impact but it is about being productive with technology that really makes a difference.

While focusing on maths and computer science Michael Gove is missing the fact that many in Silicon Valley have degrees in arts and humanities. Many developers I know have started with their creative purpose and taught themselves the programming skills they need to produce their creations.

Steve Jobs and Liberal Arts

http://www.andreweinspruch.com/steve-jobs-long-time-liberal-arts-focus

http://www.npr.org/2011/10/06/141115121/steve-jobs-computer-science-is-a-liberal-art

Arduino Starter Kits

http://www.robotbits.co.uk/arduino/arduino-explorer-kit/prod_45.html

http://www.oomlout.co.uk/arduino-getting-started-c-65_66.html

http://proto-pic.co.uk/proto-pic-starter-kit-for-arduino-uno/

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