I’m very pleased with Michael Gove’s announcement on scrapping the existing ‘Information and Communication Technology’ curriculum. I think this is a great step forward for young people and technology, and has the potential to increase interest in what is a vital area of skills for British youth.
With the launch of ‘Code Year’ and the Guardian’s campaign to address issues with digital literacy, it is good to see the government giving this part of the curriculum the attention it both needs and deserves. Indeed this initiative comes at a great time and with the Raspberry Pi – an affordable British learning computer for exciting young techies – becoming available soon.
With all that said, I am still somewhat nervous about some of the details of this announcement. The omission of a reference to open source software and solutions is disheartening, especially whilst referring to “an open-source world” and a changing and open curriculum. I hope that the Department for Education is aware of the potential positive benefits of looking at open alternatives to proprietary ‘solutions’.
I do welcome the premise and direction. Mr Gove is exactly right when he asks us to:
“Imagine the dramatic change which could be possible in just a few years, once we remove the roadblock of the existing ICT curriculum. Instead of children bored out of their minds being taught how to use Word and Excel by bored teachers, we could have 11-year-olds able to write simple 2D computer animations using an MIT tool called Scratch.”
As someone who now works in the technology sector but who suffered from poor ICT tuition at school, I hope that the government is able to deliver on these proposals; it is something that students in the UK deserve, that the economy of the UK will benefit from and something that has been ignored for too long. I have been campaigning for changes like these since 2009, they are very welcome and I am keen to see how they are implemented and developed.
Pirate Party UK
Press contact: firstname.lastname@example.org / 0161 987 7880
Originally posted on the Pirate Party website.
Tim Dobson – Pirate Party UK Education Spokesperson:
On Sunday I was in Germany watching the Pirate Party movement making history again. The Pirate Party entered the Berlin State Parliament, gaining 14 seats after polling almost 9% of the vote. At the same time the liberal FDP, a junior partner in the ruling coalition, crashed out, with only 1.9%. Pirate Party UK is inspired by the hard work of all the activists that made this result possible and sends its warmest congratulations.
Pirate Party Germany’s success shows our movement’s ideas have a broad appeal and platform. Despite smears from a clearly rattled opposition during the election campaign, the Berlin Pirates showed they have a lot to offer on education, business, representative democracy and social policy. Equally, the people of Berlin have realised that it is about time that their politicians understand the Internet better.
This result shows that the desire for a new politics and digital rights fit for the 21st century continues to grow throughout Europe. As Rick Falkvinge, Pirate Party Sweden founder put it, “We fight for civil liberties together, shoulder to shoulder, and we succeed together.”
I was lucky to get an insight into the Pirate’s campaign from the inside, their innovative poster designs and campaign slogans – ‘Ask your children why they vote for the Pirate Party’, clearly captured the imagination of the people of Berlin.
I had a great meeting with Andreas Baum, one of the 14 Pirates who will be taking up seats in the state parliament. He showed to me their ‘Glazenmobil’, a trailer with a glass wall containing a mock up of a typical front room. Their message was that instead of transparent private lives, there should be transparent politics.
In Britain, where cities are in danger of being left behind in global competition and held back by outdated political masters, the Pirate Party will continue making its case for change. We will be following in our German partners success with new candidates and a more comprehensive policy platform.
Pirate Party UK
+44 (0) 161 987 7880
In the week that teenagers received their GCSE results, Eric Schmidt has lambasted the UK education system, and I find much to agree with him on.
The UK has a proud past of scientists and technological pioneers – the first computer wasn’t built in Silicon Valley, or somewhere in China, but here in Manchester. However, since the early eighties, our education system has failed to live up to our historic record of innovation.
The fact that computer science isn’t available as a subject at every single school is simply outrageous. It wasn’t an option at my high school – I actually had to move schools to be able to pursue my interests.
Students don’t need more classes in how to use Microsoft Word or how to search on Google – they can figure that stuff out for themselves. What’s important is that every student with an interest in technology should be encouraged to study the science, the mathematics, the engineering that lies behind it.
But it’s not all about maths and science – one of the things that we’ve seen very clearly in the past 10 years is that what makes new technology (like the iPad) innovative and exciting, isn’t just the nuts, bolts and software behind it, but the beautiful design and intuitive user interfaces.
“Over the past century the UK has stopped nurturing its polymaths. You need to bring art and science back together.”
At school, I was told that the only way into technology was to do A-level Maths. I didn’t, but today I work as a professional systems administrator. You see the same narrow-mindedness in the Higher Education cuts – only certain “priority subjects”, ie science and engineering, will get funding.
We also have look at the wider picture; the legal and regulatory framework that people grow up in. The moment a young person begins to explore the creative opportunities that technology gives them, they find out that the most basic of mashups, remixes or samples are illegal and could get them ridiculous fines.
Over the past few years, I’ve been involved with several of the Young Rewired State events – bringing young people with an interest in technology together with talented mentors to build applications with government data. I’ve seen complete novices progress into talented young innovators. I think this is what we really need in education – a focus on innovation and entrepreneurship, but in a very practical, hands-on way.
Pirate Party UK
+44 (0) 161 987 7880