It’s a hot topic and a raging debate as to what and how much should the school goers be taught about information technology in their curriculum. Various bodies – the Royal Society, for Learning Technology, Computing at School (a grassroots organisation of concerned teachers) and the British Computer Society, to name just four – have published reports and discussion documents aimed at ministers and the Department for Education.
Universities want to reverse the decline in applicants for computer science courses. Gaming companies want more programmers. The government wants more high-tech start-ups. Manufacturers want trainees who can design embedded systems. And head teachers want bigger budgets for even more computer labs. And so on.
Instead of educating children about revolutionary technology of their young lifetimes, we have focused on training them to use obsolescent software products.
What we forgot was that cars don't run the world, monitor our communications, power our mobile phones, manage our bank accounts, keep our diaries, mediate our social relationships, snoop on our social activities and even – in some countries – count our votes. But networked computers do all of these things, and a lot more besides.
Teaching kids to write computer programs has to be an integral part of any new computer science curriculum.
We will, in effect, be breeding generations of hamsters for the glittering wheels of cages built by Mark Zuckerberg and his kind.
Is that what we want? Of course not