Coding in school – are we ready?

Minister Bruton asks NCCA to consider coding in schools. And there is the first problem. When a minister asks for something he might as well have whistled the ask in morse code as nobody is going to seriously implement a strategy from an ask.

The teachers can’t code. They will need to be trained. This will take years and most of the years will be dealing with austerity cuts that hits teachers pay and conditions. The youngest teachers, the ones most likely to code are to be employed on yellow pack contracts.

Coding lesson #1 How many Croke Park hours does it take to change a light bulb moment?

Where is the expert report? Surely the Minister has prepared a dossier on this “ask”. He has consulted with CoderDojo mentors and its founder James Whelton, he has flown out to meet the Collison brothers and sourced comments from experts from science and industry to deliver the report that can’t be ignored. There is a report right?

The schools are fully equipped with up to date equipment to begin this training? While CoderDojo parents know that you must provide a laptop and that the session isn’t a baby sitting service, so too the schools know that the 6 PCs in the “computer room” that have Windows 98 installed (we think) will not be suitable for a curriculum wide roll out. While CoderDojo parents can provide PCs, a large majority of parents can’t.

While mentioning parents, they too need upskilling. If the kids are going to be coding then parents need to appreciate and understand and take some ownership for fostering this movement at home.

Mothers and Daughters. If this is to succeed then the 51% of population that are female must be on board. the scheme needs to insure that it’s mother board and daughter board and NOT mother bored and daughter bored.

The minister should be writing to the CEOs of the tax holidaying multinationals to advise them how they too can help in this endeavour. While they enjoy low to no tax status their future workforce needs education. Tax the companies accordingly and avoid gifts of hardware that will date in jig time.

Finally this will all be supported at a national level. Like the BBC Micro in 1981 and the BBC micro::bit in 2015, there needs to be a bottom up as well as a top down pincer movement to enthuse the kids and their parents that the only show NOT in town becomes the only show in town.

32bit Eire should be upgraded to 64bit Eire. Let the serious games begin.

Oh and Fine Gael you should appoint Ciaran Cannon TD to oversee this all gets done.