Computer teacher training

Great Britain is in the middle of an interesting transition in education. Michael Gove, Minister of Education, is moving the country’s ICT curriculum toward a computer science curriculum. ICT in GB primarily involved teaching applications like word and excel, which Gove declared an outdated approach. I agree, and I’ve moved my own curriculum completely away from that. The latest move in this transition has to do with getting “properly trained” teachers into computer science classes. They’re offering £20,000 for CS & IT grads to go into teaching. They are also offering training for existing teachers, without the stipend, as far as I can tell.

There’s been some stink about this. There are two main counter arguments. The first is that no CS grad is going to want to take a salary cut to teach long term. £20k only goes so far. The bigger counter argument has been dismay that “traditional” ICT is being pushed aside in favor of something that is niche. Here’s one representation of that view: “I strongly believe that computer science should be regarded as an element of ICT and not a replacement for it.” I understand the argument, that there are technical skills like digital literacy, using social media, or creating multimedia, that are important to learn. However, I agree with what some people say in the linked article, that those skills need to be pushed into other disciplines so that they happen in context. In fact, I believe that the representation this teacher gives, that computer science is an element of ICT is part of the problem. Computer science created ICT.

So, no, don’t quit infusing technology into learning, but understand that computing is on par with math and science within the curriculum while learning to use digital tools effectively is something a little different, and something every teacher should incorporate in ways that make sense for their discipline.