Headteachers' guide to ... inspiring young developers
When it comes to the next generation of internet entrepreneurs, teaching schoolchildren how to use basic software is no way to 'ignite passion'. Is it time to add computer programming to the curriculum?
The UK's "great computing heritage" is being short-changed as a result of computer science falling off the ICT curriculum, according to Google's Eric Schmidt. Photograph: Echo/Getty Images/Cultura RF
"I was flabbergasted to learn that today, computer science isn't even taught as standard in UK schools," said Google's Eric Schmidt at last summer's Edinburgh TV Festival. "Your IT curriculum focuses on teaching how to use software, but gives no insight into how it's made. That is just throwing away your great computing heritage."
Is he right? Many people learn to drive a car, but do not need to be engineers, so why is computing any different? Schmidt's comments partly reflect a generational difference. Those born like him in the 50s saw the birth of personal computers, and in the early days you had to be a programmer to do anything useful with them. Now computers are ubiquitous, the essential skills are not programming but how to operate them sensibly and use standard software.