Remembering being taught Applied ICT at A Level

I recently noticed that I got quoted in The Information Age, at the beginning of the year due to the UK Cyber Security Challenge.:

“Tim Dobson, a 20-year-old university student, does not remember his IT A-level course fondly. “In one lesson, our teacher asked us how to find the YouTube website,” he recalled.

Dobson added that he had always been interested in pursuing an IT career, but it “would have helped if the course was not such a failure”. He dropped out of his course before completing it.”

It’s funny, I don’t remember being a university student, but sadly, that anecdote about YouTube is correct.

Back in 2007, I was in an Applied ICT (Double award) A level lesson. These were one of the most dull things I’ve encountered in my life.

The class was working and suddenly the tutor, who’s also working on a computer asks the room,

What’s the address of ‘youtube’?

Sadly, no one responded

*ahem*. Let me just google that for you

or

Shouldn’t you be teaching us that?

We were too stunned.

In the end, someone just muttered “youtube.com” across the room.

Several years on, I asked one of my classmates whether they remembered those lessons:

Unfortunately I do… I loved wasting 2 years of my life that I’ll never get back.

Which is pretty much how I feel about it.

There were positive reactions to such a negative experience – my involvement with the free software community, the formation of DFEY and the building of direct links with technology companies in the area would never have happened if I hadn’t had such a bad experience.

I can’t help but wonder, however, what would have happened if it hadn’t been the way it was – contrary to the article above, despite some attempts by the college to remove me, I completed the course.

To this day, I’m still very proud to have passed an A Level in Applied ICT, at Grade E.

~

Post Script: It looks like almost everyone has at least one story like this. Here is my friend Josh Pickett’s!

Free speech means believing in the freedom of speech you don’t like.

I don’t often agree with Noam Chomsky, but this quote is spot on:

“If you believe in freedom of speech, you believe in freedom of speech for views you don’t like. Stalin and Hitler, for example, were dictators in favor of freedom of speech for views they liked only. If you’re in favor of freedom of speech, that means you’re in favor of freedom of speech precisely for views you despise.”

— Noam Chomsky

This means we need to protect the right to protest, even if we do not agree with those who wish to protest.