A few thoughts and ideas

Education, Coding and being Agile

CodingIn response to this LinkedIn post, I wrote a comment which turned out too long by a thousand characters or more!

Peter Grant initiates the discussion where Peter and the respondents make some thought-worthy points regarding STEM, particularly around the issue of coding. The discussion centres on the whether the promotion of coding and IT in universities is preparing students for the jobs of the future.

The comment I wrote went something like this…

Generally speaking, education is generationally slow to respond and often driven by federal, state, and local political agendas (equally slow to adapt to the changing world) that are based on the limited experiences of ministers and what is likely to poll well (I suspect some are well advised but are compelled to abide by politically informed imperatives). Examples of these types of agenda areas include the historical emphasis in Howard’s approach to modern Australian school curriculum, Christopher Pyne’s mandating of the emphasis on phonics in primary curriculum and the current cross-chamber support for coding.

In schools as well as in universities, the courses that can be offered are generally limited to those that existing educators are trained to offer. So, at uni you are destined to be offered to learn that which was taught to your lecturer. This is at least a three-generation gap. Even if the subject can be  justified to have survived three generations-worth of university curriculum development, the teaching methods surely don’t.

With the intergenerational latency of teacher skillsets, university offerings, political paradigms and schooling processes, there will likely be an enduring mismatch between our education systems and the world of work.

Specifically regarding coding.  I don’t think the use of coding is necessarily a bad thing in educational programs (I don’t think anyone here is suggesting it is) but I worry about what happens to all the students who have learned coding when the future’s real  high-value IT and IT enriched jobs will inevitably involve  levels above algorithmic thinking and coding;  especially when much of the coding task will itself become automated. This all comes back to Peter Grant’s argument about the need to aim for developing a healthy population of workers who operate at the architectural/creative level.

None of this is a criticism of any individual or group’s efforts as we all are required to operate within our given environment’s capacity and readiness to the need for agility. Unfortunately though, education systems and institutions are so big they do not need to change quickly in order for them to endure.

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