[Melbourne-pm] last thought on programming

Toby Corkindale toby.corkindale at strategicdata.com.au
Sun Jan 4 16:39:06 PST 2009

John Thornton wrote:
>               Last thought that I can’t resist making. To explain why I 
> still think that my school era [1980-1992] had “garbage” computer 
> education, let me put it this way:
>              Did you know that the Victorian curriculum has gone 
> *backwards* in programming skills since the 80s? An outlandish claim? 
> Well, I found Maths A and Maths B books in a hop shop. In the back of 
> them were instructions for coding in Pascal!!! There was a list of 
> Pascal commands! Where is that list [Java whatever] in today’s maths 
> books? Nowhere! The whole song and dance that the VCE is better than HSC 
> at teaching people to apply maths to real life is bollocks. I have never 
> bought the whole sales pitch that maths methods [It was change and 
> approximation when I did VCE; methods came later] is so flipping 
> fantastic at teaching applied maths skills.

In the 80s, high schools didn't really have any IT classes.
If you were lucky enough to use a computer, you probably did it in your 
maths classes, since computers were really just elaborate programmable 
calculators as far as the curriculum people were concerned.
Hence, the math textbooks have some programming info in them.

Whereas today, the curriculum includes a dedicated ICT track:

So, it doesn't need to be squashed in with mathematics any longer, so it 
doesn't need to be in their textbooks.

>            While we are at it I spare no savagery for the whole “info 
> tech” subject either. I never did it. But it seems obvious to me that 
> just as science is broken up [enviro tech, physics, chem. Etc] info tech 
> should be broken up as well. There should be a subject where you take 
> the computer physically apart and aother one where you program. To lump 
> info tech as one subject is dumb dumb  dumb.

People don't learn to take apart motorcycles or mobile phones in school. 
Why should they learn to take apart a computer?

They are a commodity, consumer item, and the vast majority of people 
will treat it as such - they will purchase one, and when it breaks they 
will have a specialised worker repair it, or they will replace it. Just 
like their other consumer items.

Why should we waste their time trying to teach them how to tell the 
difference between a GPU and a CPU? How many people can tell the 
difference between the fuel injector and spark plug in a modern engine, 
if they can even find them under the bonnet? Yet they can be perfectly 
fine drivers.


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