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Davespice
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BBC Newsnight: Year of code (train wreck)

Thu Feb 06, 2014 9:13 am

If you're in the UK and have not seen this yet, please watch. Skip to 18:00.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0 ... 5_02_2014/

I think many of you will agree this is a pretty bad train wreck of a broadcast, I think it almost goes as far as to dismantle the effort people have been putting into reforming the national curriculum :evil:

Edit: For non UK residents: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-7x7GYItzS4

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Re: BBC Newsnight: Year of code (train wreck)

Thu Feb 06, 2014 10:29 am

Hmmm.

The reporter doesn't have a clue - "gobbledygook", "why [on Earth] would you want to know that?"
Hopefully somebody watching that will take note of the guy with concerns that is must be relevant and not like dry French grammar.

Lotti Dexter, director of 'Year of Code' is going to learn (good), but clearly knows nothing about coding now (very bad).

JP: 'How long does it take to learn to teach to code?'
LD: 'I think you can pick it up in a day'

LD:' We are encouraging all teachers to teach an hour of code'

Disastrous!

£500,000 to be spent on training £170,000 teachers how to teach coding. £29 each!

Pitiful!

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Re: BBC Newsnight: Year of code (train wreck)

Thu Feb 06, 2014 10:53 am

As far as I can see, the whole point of News Night, and the value of the presenter, is arrogant dismissiveness.
"I don't know this, so it's not worth knowing".
And confirms the prejudice of the viewer, allowing him or her to go away, knowing that they don't need to change.

So the program succeeds admirably

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Re: BBC Newsnight: Year of code (train wreck)

Thu Feb 06, 2014 10:54 am

How To ask Questions :- http://www.catb.org/esr/faqs/smart-questions.html
WARNING - some parts of this post may be erroneous YMMV

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Re: BBC Newsnight: Year of code (train wreck)

Thu Feb 06, 2014 11:22 am

Paxman: What is coding?

Director of Year of Code: I can't actually code. But you can learn to do it in an hour


So why didn't she spend that "hour" learning to code before going on the programme ?

oh, and another good start:

http://www.yearofcode.org (broken xml page)

[edit] it was down for a full day after the newsnight broadcast

http://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/new ... arts-badly
Last edited by mikerr on Fri Feb 07, 2014 10:24 am, edited 4 times in total.

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Re: BBC Newsnight: Year of code (train wreck)

Thu Feb 06, 2014 11:27 am

mikerr wrote:Paxman: What is coding?

Director of Year of Code: I can't actually code. But you can learn to do it in an hour


So why didn't she spend that "hour" learning to code before going on the programme ?

oh, and another good start:

http://www.yearofcode.org (broken xml page)
which should be
http://www.codeyear.com/
....
How To ask Questions :- http://www.catb.org/esr/faqs/smart-questions.html
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Re: BBC Newsnight: Year of code (train wreck)

Thu Feb 06, 2014 11:51 am

mikerr wrote:Paxman: What is coding?

Director of Year of Code: I can't actually code. But you can learn to do it in an hour


So why didn't she spend that "hour" learning to code before going on the programme ?

oh, and another good start:

http://www.yearofcode.org (broken xml page)
You can get started bymaking your own Pong game with
Kano and Moshi Monsters.
Works for me.

codeyear.com is code academy

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Re: BBC Newsnight: Year of code (train wreck)

Thu Feb 06, 2014 11:59 am

it's been fixed now ;-p

sorry for the code acc link also .. my mistake
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Re: BBC Newsnight: Year of code (train wreck)

Thu Feb 06, 2014 12:06 pm


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Re: BBC Newsnight: Year of code (train wreck)

Thu Feb 06, 2014 12:08 pm

PiGraham wrote:LD:' We are encouraging all teachers to teach an hour of code'

Disastrous!

£500,000 to be spent on training £170,000 teachers how to teach coding. £29 each!

Pitiful!
No its worse than that they will at best train 1700 teachers and expect that will make them experts to tell the other teachers how as in every other scheme.
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Re: BBC Newsnight: Year of code (train wreck)

Thu Feb 06, 2014 12:08 pm

yearofcode.org front page has a list of coding related websites (including this one), and a list of people, some of whom probably know what they are doing.

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Re: BBC Newsnight: Year of code (train wreck)

Thu Feb 06, 2014 12:16 pm

Davespice wrote:Just seen this now; http://raspberrypisynthesizer.blogspot. ... ar-of.html
All those reference to how pretty the Dexter is. Had to look her up to see what the fuss was about. Not too shoddy (mumble, Kylie, mumble). But hasn't got the rhetoric to take on Paxman.
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Re: BBC Newsnight: Year of code (train wreck)

Thu Feb 06, 2014 12:24 pm

Not really a train wreck - just business as usual. Show Paxo how to write a little bit of code useful to himself (not "Hello World") and he'll understand.

Look on the bright side - all those kid coders of 10-13 or so, possibly Pi owners, some on this forum, who can watch that broadcast and think "Look at those two old people, no idea what they're on about"!

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Re: BBC Newsnight: Year of code (train wreck)

Thu Feb 06, 2014 1:04 pm

I'd missed this. Thanks for the alert! What a squirm-making waste of my licence-paying money.

I've played with computing machines since the Sixties, and as a teacher promoted them to staff & pupils. Had a great time in the early days- some pupils wanted to try Computing A Level so we did it in our own time. We travelled up and down the country to where interesting computing-in-schools was happening. Pupils who are now working for Nomura Bank, etc.

I gave up teaching Physics to lead IT in school, because I thought I was getting senior colleagues to appreciate what was becoming possible, and loving the enthusiasm of my pupils ( and a minority of my colleagues). It all got killed by administrators & 'leader/managers' who didn't understand how it all worked, nor how much expense and training would be needed, and who wanted pupils to learn how to do things the 'Office' way (and apparently self-teach instantaneously any coding skills.)

When I retired I waited for things to change- and the whole Pi Foundation initiative greatly heartened me. And the National Curriculum changes look promising. However, living in a rural area I find it hard to put my skills toward helping teachers who are going to be thrown in the deep end this way. The nearest Pi activities are 30 miles away. So I selfishly play with my Pis and coding/interfacing etc and have huge fun. But I really miss the buzz of students soaking-up coding ideas and flying ahead with them.

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Re: BBC Newsnight: Year of code (train wreck)

Thu Feb 06, 2014 1:12 pm

Personally I think Paxman nailed it. I have not seen a convincing argument that all kids need to learn to code and believe pushing the notion they do is nothing more than selling Snake Oil.

I am not against kids being given an understanding about programming and related issues but I don't see being specifically taught to code as essential as others appear to. I have no problem with encouraging people into coding or facilitating those who want to and the curriculum has been lacking in that respect. This however is a drastic knee-jerk swing.

As best as I can tell the government has seen the massive revenues being generated by games and CGI companies, wants a slice of that, and has worked out that games and CGI are programmed and we therefore need programmers, need coders. Best start training them up to get a slice of the action in the future. Britain will be great again ... if only we had coders.

It fits the long history of "we need farmers", we need foundry workers", "we need mill workers", "we need bankers", whenever a government imagines it knows what the next big thing will be and seeks to benefit from that.

I believe the government's vision of the future is flawed and over-hyped, compulsory teaching all to code is misguided and non-essential. I don't believe the majority will be coding or needing to know how to code in their future careers, and it will ultimately be as useless to them as some subjects have been for me.

I think the topic also has to be approached from the opposite direction; what will happen if we don't teach everyone to code ? I believe the answer to that reveals the lack of necessity but others will undoubtedly disagree.

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Re: BBC Newsnight: Year of code (train wreck)

Thu Feb 06, 2014 1:19 pm

hippy wrote:Personally I think Paxman nailed it. I have not seen a convincing argument that all kids need to learn to code and believe pushing the notion they do is nothing more than selling Snake Oil.
To be fair I do agree with that. This stuff that coding should be equivalent to one of the three "R"s (something like that was said in the report somewhere) is just rubbish.

A bit of exposure, to help spot those who might be interested later, is a good idea. But a little bit of school coding doesn't give you any idea what's involved in maintaining a major piece of software over several years and several releases with many devs involved.

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Re: BBC Newsnight: Year of code (train wreck)

Thu Feb 06, 2014 1:28 pm

The same arguments can be made for history, maths, physics and chemistry. We don't learn physics in school because we are all going to grow up to be physicists. Those subjects are taught because they put the world around us into perspective. And computers are as much a part of that world.

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Re: BBC Newsnight: Year of code (train wreck)

Thu Feb 06, 2014 1:34 pm

We don't learn physics in school - just a few of us learn school-level physics. I'm just saying kids should learn a little school level coding, but there's not much point in expecting them all to grow up to be software engineers.

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Re: BBC Newsnight: Year of code (train wreck)

Thu Feb 06, 2014 1:40 pm

Ravenous wrote:... there's not much point in expecting them all to grow up to be software engineers.
It seems to me that the government believes it will be that way. Everyone will be a software engineer. That's the path we need to take to make us great again, that's the path we need to set everyone upon. Some may believe that, I don't.

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Re: BBC Newsnight: Year of code (train wreck)

Thu Feb 06, 2014 1:49 pm

ShiftPlusOne wrote:The same arguments can be made for history, maths, physics and chemistry. We don't learn physics in school because we are all going to grow up to be physicists. Those subjects are taught because they put the world around us into perspective. And computers are as much a part of that world.
I completely agree.

All kids should know the basics of coding, just as they should know the basics of algebra or chemistry. It enables them to comprehend something of the world around them and it shows them what coding is. If they know that they might like it and take it further. How many potential programmers would discover an aptitude for coding if they has never encountered it and knew no more about it than Paxman (nothing)? The same goes for any school subject people don't often encounter in daily life.

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Re: BBC Newsnight: Year of code (train wreck)

Thu Feb 06, 2014 2:23 pm

Ravenous wrote:We don't learn physics in school - just a few of us learn school-level physics. I'm just saying kids should learn a little school level coding, but there's not much point in expecting them all to grow up to be software engineers.
Maybe I should've said 'science' instead, sorry. Either way, I agree with what you're saying.
When I was at school, they spent years on teaching everything from cooking to psychology. All up, the time spent on arts and social sciences would've added up to at least two university degrees. And because these weren't important subjects, the teachers didn't care either. It was just time spent sitting around and talking. Yet putting together all the time spent on anything remotely related to computer science and it adds up to a little over one term. It's just not in proportion.

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Re: BBC Newsnight: Year of code (train wreck)

Thu Feb 06, 2014 2:33 pm

Does anyone know why we are now calling it coding, and not programming? To me this sounds cryptic, and emphasises all the wrong aspects. It is as if the process consisted mainly of writing in hexadecimal. Also it suggests that we already know exactly what we want computers to do, and that the hard part is just translating that into the right language. That is not the hard part, and it is certainly not the interesting part.

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Re: BBC Newsnight: Year of code (train wreck)

Thu Feb 06, 2014 2:36 pm

http://politicalscrapbook.net/2014/02/t ... ie-dexter/
jojopi wrote:Does anyone know why we are now calling it coding, and not programming? To me this sounds cryptic, and emphasises all the wrong aspects. It is as if the process consisted mainly of writing in hexadecimal. Also it suggests that we already know exactly what we want computers to do, and that the hard part is just translating that into the right language. That is not the hard part, and it is certainly not the interesting part.
I totally agree. I think using the word code should be banned in this context. To the lay person it invokes thoughts about cryptography and really hard mathematics and naturally they want to run a mile.

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Re: BBC Newsnight: Year of code (train wreck)

Thu Feb 06, 2014 2:47 pm

I guess the answer is that coding is (slightly) less geeky sounding than "programming". You know what kids are like with peer pressure...

But it's "programming" for old fashioned duffers like me. Call a thingummy a watsit.

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Re: BBC Newsnight: Year of code (train wreck)

Thu Feb 06, 2014 2:59 pm

Ravenous wrote:We don't learn physics in school - just a few of us learn school-level physics. I'm just saying kids should learn a little school level coding, but there's not much point in expecting them all to grow up to be software engineers.
Er, yes we do teach physics in school. Although its under the umbrella of Science in the early years.

As for teaching it as one of the R's, the world is changing, more and more people are attached to computer devices all the time. So its always going to be useful to know at least a little bit of how they work. But, I agree you don't want to be teaching "what's involved in maintaining a major piece of software over several years and several releases with many devs involved.". But of course, that is not what is being proposed (and you don;t even learn that at University). Backround and basic coding is the proposal. From that children will be able to make a better judgement of what they then do later.
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