Programming, what has been stopping schools so far?

Eric Schmidt has added his voice to the growing demands for school’s to pursue Computer Science instead of Office based applications in schools (Guardian article April 2012). This article supports the Guardian’s campaign to bring coding back to schools. John Naughton has written a similar article that makes similar demands. One common theme from the articles is that they all believe that Raspberry Pi will be the catalyst for this computer science revolution. The arguement follows that Raspberry Pi is cheap and is suited to programming. This arguement fails to recognise that schools will still need to buy a screen and peripherals for each device and buy the Model B version with better networking and video capabilities ($35 not $25).

I want to know why this new device will mean programming is more likely to be taught when schools have had computers that can program today. In Eric Schmidt’s article he mentions the Decoded training programme for teachers which covers programming in a day. This course covers HTML, CSS and JavaScript. All of this (scripting) is possible on any PC or Mac. You could use the excellent W3 Schools which provides immediate feedback for your web scripting (W3 Schools Try it Yourself).

I worry that Raspberry Pi offers schools some more technology to spend their money on rather than focussing on CPD and better curriculum management. If they want to spend money why not buy Arduino kit and teach the Processing language (Arduino software)?


Gary Stager and Coding

Schmidt’s MacTaggart Lecture