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Steve Furber On Why Kids Are Turned Off To Computing Classes

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the thought-the-kids-were-alright dept.

Education 383

nk497 writes "UK computing legend Steve Furber — co-founder of Acorn and ARM designer — believes students are avoiding computing classes because they teach nothing but the boring basics. Currently studying why the number of students signing up for computing has halved in the past eight years, Furber said schools focus too much on teaching kids how to use spreadsheets, word processors and PowerPoint, rather than teaching more challenging areas such as programming. 'What schools are presenting as ICT as an academic subject is very mundane compared with what students know they can do,' he said. 'It's as if maths was just arithmetic or English was taught as just spelling. It's not unimportant that you can do arithmetic or you can spell, but it certainly doesn't open up the whole world of interest and challenge, if that's all you do.'"

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383 comments

well.. (3, Funny)

Soilworker (795251) | more than 3 years ago | (#33152400)

They can't teach anything else, most "computer science" teach I had in highschool was almost computer iliterate, shit, I even had a programming teacher in college who was typing with 2 fingers.

Re:well.. (2, Interesting)

The MAZZTer (911996) | more than 3 years ago | (#33152660)

Perhaps it's the opposite problem. Because comp sci classes don't cover anything but the basic basics, schools never need to or never realize their teachers aren't very good at the subject themselves. If the school taught more advanced subjects they would screen out those teachers in job interviews based on questions on the subjects.

Agreed. (4, Interesting)

itomato (91092) | more than 3 years ago | (#33153188)

I had pre-CompSci in 7th and 8th grade, taught by an old mainframer.

He gave us challenging computer science problems. We turned them out on C64s.

When the work was done, out came the joysticks..

Thanks, Barry!

Re:well.. (5, Interesting)

Vindication (1383017) | more than 3 years ago | (#33153198)

Personally, I'm trying to figure out why the College Board decided to ditch AP Computer Science AB. It covered more advanced CS topics (by high school standards, anyway,) that, ideally, should have served as such screening.

I was fortunate enough to attend the best-funded public school in my state and graduate from it several months ago (though one can easily argue much of the funding simply went to and from the football program, that's a topic for another post) and was also fortunate to get to experience AP-AB CS the last year it was offered. Whereas AP-A CS focused on the basics of Java (perhaps a controversial choice of language, but certainly not the topic of choice here; it worked for me and for those of my classmates interested in learning the basics of programming,) I found that AP-AB introduced more advanced concepts - algorithm efficiency analysis via Big-O notation, the exploration of various data structures, etc.

I feel the class left me unprepared in terms of what it set out to accomplish, but not because of its curriculum - I feel that the blame lies, quite frankly, in the incompetence of the teacher (for future reference, until the AP-AB course was discontinued in 2009, our school offered AP-A and AP-AB CS as consequent courses taught by the same teacher.)

While I am by no means myself an excellent programmer by any stretch of the imagination, perhaps due to some predisposition for the topic matter, I had an easier time understanding the material than many of my classmates. I believe that one factor contributing to this was an immediate dislike of my teacher, which led me to largely ignore the lectures and simply read the corresponding material in our book (if I recall correctly, it was Fundamentals of Java by Lambert and Osborne). I noticed many of my (otherwise very bright) classmates struggling with what seemed to me basic concepts and they began turning to some of my other classmates, who were either already familiar with programming or simply had a knack for picking it up quickly, and myself for help.

The teacher did not only fail to encourage having the kids actually learn something, she actively began to *stop* them from asking for help - both from each other AND from her!

This sort of attitude, combined with a very, erm...'interesting' grading scale (you could easily pass the class if your code was formatted exactly as she specified in terms of white space but didn't work at all the entire year) and, judging by the few lectures I did listen to and the complaints of my classmates, a grip on Java that was tenuous at best, guaranteed that a large number of my classmates who were bright in other subjects and sought to learn basic programming skills turned away from the area for good. (About the one thing fully everyone got from that class was that the teacher was, by all accounts, full of hot air.)

I think the problem lies in that, to weed out unsatisfactory teachers in programming, you'd need to have someone who actually understands the topic at hand involved at the screening, which, given the school I came from, seems unlikely.


TL;DR (because not everyone enjoys a long-winded and rambling essay): I just graduated from high school and took the CS courses available; both the basic and more advanced courses were held back less by their content than by the several levels of incompetence of the teacher (and it's a total shame.)

Re:well.. (1)

Vindication (1383017) | more than 3 years ago | (#33153248)

A small footnote (didn't proofread too carefully before submitting) - I was left unprepared primarily in the AP-AB topics that weren't covered in our book, that I attempted to understand from listening to my teacher. Most of my classmates who alternated between the book and the teacher noticed a similar trend.

Re:well.. (1)

bberens (965711) | more than 3 years ago | (#33153622)

If it helps, my "Intro to C" class in college was taught by a TA who didn't know C. So, at least in my experience, it's not any better in college.

Re:well.. (2, Funny)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 3 years ago | (#33153796)

It could be worse, you could have an intelligent teacher who knows and loves the subject, but only speaks Vietnamese. Fortunately there was a cute little Vietnamese girl in class. I would have passed just on doing the homework, but there were other advantages to be had.

Re:well.. (4, Insightful)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 3 years ago | (#33152682)

shit, I even had a programming teacher in college who was typing with 2 fingers.

I've met many programmers that are horrible typists. The two skills do not necessarily go hand-in-hand.

Re:well.. (0)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 3 years ago | (#33152944)

I have also met many programmers that are horrible typists. They were also horrible programmers :) But seriously... if you work behind a computer for a sufficient number of years, you're bound to pick up some half-decent typing style. I've had the lick of having learned to type blind, which makes me able to type without having to think about the keyboard and focus on programming instead, but even the slowest typing collegues seem to have a reasonable typing speed.

Re:well.. (4, Funny)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 3 years ago | (#33153662)

I've had the lick of having learned to type blind, which makes me able to type without having to think about the keyboard and focus on programming instead, but even the slowest typing collegues seem to have a reasonable typing speed.

Irony alert... irony alert... Irony level has been set to MAUVE.

In the event that additional typos are detected in a post regarding touch-typing ability, please be aware that the irony level may be raised to FUSCHIA. Please ensure your irony preparedness kits are completely stocked, and stay tuned for further announcements.

Re:well.. (3, Funny)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 3 years ago | (#33153842)

--> I've had the lick of having learned to type blind, which makes me able to type without having to think about the keyboard and focus on programming instead, but even the slowest typing collegues seem to have a reasonable typing speed.

Irony alert... irony alert... Irony level has been set to MAUVE.

In the event that additional typos are detected in a post regarding touch-typing ability, please be aware that the irony level may be raised to FUSCHIA. Please ensure your irony preparedness kits are completely stocked, and stay tuned for further announcements.

Doh! Insensitive clod alert... insensitive clod alert... insensitive clod level has been set to MORON.

In the event that another poster uses colors as threat-level indicators in response to a post written by a blind person, insensitive clod level may be raised to DOUCHEBAG. Please ensure your insensitive clod beating kits are prepared for use, and stay tuned for further announcements.

Re:well.. (1)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 3 years ago | (#33153844)

if you work behind a computer for a sufficient number of years, you're bound to pick up some half-decent typing style.

Typing was one of the most valuable courses I ever took in High School, but the thing that REALLY sharpened my typing skills was playing DikuMUD on a SUN Sparc in college.

Guilty (1)

fuzznutz (789413) | more than 3 years ago | (#33153106)

I once had an observer remark to me that I was the fastest two finger typist she had ever seen. I have honed my skills since then. I use *SEVEN* fingers now! Maybe by the time I retire, I will use all ten.

Re:Guilty (1)

elmodog (1064698) | more than 3 years ago | (#33153252)

I only use nine. My left thumb doesn't do anything.

Re:Guilty (5, Funny)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 3 years ago | (#33153392)

pffft, I type with my dick. The only problem is that balls keep pushing the space-bar.

Re:Guilty (5, Funny)

red_dragon (1761) | more than 3 years ago | (#33153674)

What language can be written entirely with only the bottom row of the keyboard?

Re:Guilty (4, Funny)

c++0xFF (1758032) | more than 3 years ago | (#33153836)

Whitespace.

Re:Guilty (4, Informative)

just fiddling around (636818) | more than 3 years ago | (#33153894)

Brainfuck.

Re:well.. (2, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#33153358)

When programming, you should spend a lot more time thinking than typing. So good typing skills are not necessary at all.

Re:well.. (1)

Kral_Blbec (1201285) | more than 3 years ago | (#33153644)

Conversely, when you have good typing skills you don't have to think about typing. When you have poor typing skills, you spend a lot more time looking for the "d" key.

Re:well.. (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#33153672)

This is true.

In fact - one of the most amazing programmers I've ever seen had only 3 fingers on his left hand and his thumb, which he used for hotkeys while he used the mouse on the right to cut - paste - move code, etc.

Very rarely did he have to type anything out - most things are already written.

Re:well.. (1)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 3 years ago | (#33152892)

I've had much the same experience. Sure, there were bad teachers in all subjects, but in general they at least knew their field much better than their pupils, and there were also some very good teachers in most areas - the same couldn't be said for ICT (as it was called in school). When the top 20% or so of a class of 15 year olds know significantly more about the subject than their teacher, something is seriously wrong. If the teachers don't understand the fundamentals then there's no chance of them being able to teach the good stuff. I certainly wouldn't want to learn calculus from someone who could barely handle multiplication.

Maybe it's improved in the (few) years since I left, but I don't hold out that much hope. The worst thing was that one of my old IT teachers was quite literally one of the least intelligent people I've ever met - not only was he entirely incompetent at his job, he could barely hold a useful conversation; I can't possibly imagine that he would've got a job teaching anything else, simply because there would always be someone better to fill his place. I understand that there are many jobs in IT that seem more attractive than teaching, but surely that goes for maths, or chemistry, or whatever, too. Those subjects aren't left with the absolute dregs, so why is it accepted in IT?

Re:well.. (1)

Venik (915777) | more than 3 years ago | (#33153526)

I understand that there are many jobs in IT that seem more attractive than teaching, but surely that goes for maths, or chemistry, or whatever, too.

It doesn't, actually. It is much easier for an "OK" programmer, sysadmin, network admin, etc. working as a teacher in school to find a better paying job in the industry than it is for an "OK" mathematician, chemist, or physicist. Unless you work at the Max Plank Institute for Physics or the Fermilab, chances are most commercial organizations have more IT staff than they do scientists.

You also need to consider what education your teachers received themselves. Physics, math, chemistry have well-established curricula at most colleges. Comp Sci, on the other hand, is still very much work in progress. As every other problem with our education system, low quality of IT education in schools is caused by a combination of factors. I attended school in USSR. I had programming classes and the teacher sucked. In every other respect the school was top-notch. Entry-level teaching positions back in those days paid much better than similar engineering positions.

I think the most important factor is lack of established college programs that teach IT education, as opposed to just IT. Being a brilliant mathematician, for example, doesn't necessarily qualify one as a good math teacher. I consider myself a proficient programmer and sysadmin, but when someone asks me to explain something to them, after a couple of minutes I just want to punch him in the face. So, probably, a teaching career would not be the optimal choice for me.

Re:well.. (4, Insightful)

Miseph (979059) | more than 3 years ago | (#33153660)

One of the big reasons is because work involving computers is highly overvalued, and teachers are highly undervalued. I know that won't be a popular POV on Slashdot, but it's sadly true. Anyone who is even remotely competent as a programmer can pull down amounts of money that make $20,000 - $35,000 a year to start look, well, laughable. The benefits are pretty good, and the vacation time is pretty much unbeatable, but anyone able to understand '>' just isn't likely to bite. Heck, they'd be better off working as the school's IT guy than teaching CS there... a LOT better off.

And it doesn't help matters that CS isn't one of the Big 4, and as such gets shafted right along with other subjects like art and music. One of the best parts about being a teacher is job security and stability... but if you can't even count on that beyond the next time a road needs to be repaved or a school committee member's child comes down with acute spend-a-gazillion-dollars-to-accommodate-me syndrome, then it loses a lot of appeal for decent potential candidates.

For the record, I don't think this is exclusive to CS... journalism, political science, psychology, engineering, and a few others give very little incentive for graduates to take jobs in education. The rewards available from an entry-level job with a basic degree, and the competition for such jobs, simply conspire against it for all but the least competent individuals.

Another reason, and one that probably doesn't help the former, is that we are just now beginning to see a generation of parents, educators, administrators, politicians, etc. who are actually in agreement on the value of technology education. That's the way the power balance is shifting, and demographics ensure that it will inevitably shift completely, but this kind of cultural change takes time. Even now there are a lot of people making decisions about education that will affect students for years to come, who sincerely believe that penmanship is a highly valuable skill warranting a great deal of education and practice (and not just because it is a good exercise for building fine-motor control and hand-eye coordination)... moving ITC beyond "how to open Excel" is just not going to happen overnight.

Re:well.. (5, Funny)

dcollins (135727) | more than 3 years ago | (#33153648)

"iliterate"

You don't say.

Re:well.. (4, Insightful)

Ash Vince (602485) | more than 3 years ago | (#33153676)

They can't teach anything else, most "computer science" teach I had in highschool was almost computer iliterate, shit, I even had a programming teacher in college who was typing with 2 fingers.

Maybe you are just arrogant? It is a common problem among techies, I know I suffered from it in my youth and it did me no favours.

I am now a 36 year old software developer and the big thing I have learnt is how little I know. This is the same in many fields though since each answer always brings with it more questions. The best advice I can give you is to queitly learn as much as you can. Even though your teachers might know nothing about what you think they should know about, you be damn sure they know something and you never know when that something might be useful.

PS - I still type with 2 fingers as I am not willing to take the short term hit on productivity in order to change the habit of the last 27 years (I learnt to code on the ZX Spectrum, not great code granted but it was a start)

More problems than just that (1)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 3 years ago | (#33152446)

Another big issue with computer classes is the woefully outdated equipments used. Back when I was in college, my computer class had us print Lotus spreadsheets (yeah, I'm a dinosaur) using dot matrix printers that were already relics back in those days. I remember that I printed my own spreadsheet 16 times to get it to come out right, and each of those 16 attempts came out differently. I was not a happy camper, as you can imagine, and anyone who was not already a computer enthusiast going into the class would not be turned into one as a result of it.

Re:More problems than just that (2, Interesting)

Shoeler (180797) | more than 3 years ago | (#33152622)

I dunno - I'm with the OP here. A big part of why most computing classes suck is that they aren't focusing on the fun and exciting things that can be done with programming.

Example.

I work in a US DoD agency that has a ton of civilian Engineers in it. I work with people who have MS degrees in Engineering, and tens of years of experience. Really. Friggin. Smart. People.

Not a one of them has taken a programming language that's even still used. Not even the newest Engineer, who has his Masters, and is only 26 years old. He didn't even have to TAKE a programming class. All the older engineers of my age (mid 30s) had to at least take a programming class, but it was Pascal (SERIOUSLY????) or FORTRAN.

Now - granted, FORTRAN is still used in a lot of the models we run, but I digress.

None have heard of Python, Groovy, etc. None have ever touched an object oriented language. But every one of them comes to me to write code for them where they could probably do it themselves if they had the training. I'm talking about silly stuff - data manipulation that takes 30-100 lines of code and a half day at most.

Don't get me wrong - I love my job, but ffs. If they had to take an object oriented language - even C++, but better C# or Java, they could much better interact with we programmers writing their apps for them.

Re:More problems than just that (1)

hoggoth (414195) | more than 3 years ago | (#33153350)

Your job sounds kinda interesting. Many small one or two day projects for a variety of needs, working with very smart people. Could you say who you work for, or give some more details if you can't say the name?

Re:More problems than just that (1)

Rakshasa Taisab (244699) | more than 3 years ago | (#33153616)

What do you need to teach computer classes?

Light-weight unix and some knowledge.... you can do what using 486's with 8M ram if that's all you got...

Re:More problems than just that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33153888)

Computer science can be taught without computers. A good teacher can also provide the motivation for the curriculum without giving students access to the blinkenlights. Computer science is 90% math. Are you sure that that isn't the turn-off? Programming on the other hand is more like a craft and should be taught like one.

no child left behind and the cert mess = tech tes (1, Insightful)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#33152466)

no child left behind and the cert mess = tech just the test and with certification alot of the time they are way off base from the real world or set in a world of free M$ software that in many places will no much to set up how some of the cert tests have things setup.

Re:no child left behind and the cert mess = tech t (2, Insightful)

wagadog (545179) | more than 3 years ago | (#33152564)

...and the students learn absolutely dreadful sentence construction besides!

Honestly, your point is very well taken, if I understand it correctly.

The certs you would have to go through to officially teach programming in the schools are so demeaning and outdated, that no programmer would do it -- and I've never met a teacher, even in the hard sciences or tech, who even knew what 'programming a computer' was: they were downright suspicious of the practice, because they couldn't distinguish it from 'hacking'.

They're certified to teach to the test, which means basic MS user skills, and maybe swapping boards in PCs and re-installing...you got it: windows.

don't forget the 2-4+ year degree with loads of no (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#33152628)

don't forget the 2-4+ year degree with loads of not tech stuff just to be able to get to the tech stuff and the Non Tech school tech in CS alot of old and out of date stuff and not the more upto date IT stuff.

Re:don't forget the 2-4+ year degree with loads of (2, Insightful)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 3 years ago | (#33152760)

Do you know there is a spelling difference between the words "tech" and "teach", right? If you would learn this it would make deciphering your posts much easier. Second on your list should be about splitting your thoughts into multiple sentences instead of one long run-on sentence that meanders.

Re:don't forget the 2-4+ year degree with loads of (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33152980)

It's likely that "Joe the Dragon" is a bot, that takes a few items picked from a talking points file and runs them through some really bad sentence construction AI.

Re:don't forget the 2-4+ year degree with loads of (1)

FormOfActionBanana (966779) | more than 3 years ago | (#33153876)

Joe the Dragon could be a really smart 7 year old child, a severely autistic adult, a non native English speaker, or dyslexic. Don't understand it? Ignore it and move on, it's just spam to you. But taking time out of your life to try to train/insult him/it is pointless.

Re:no child left behind and the cert mess = tech t (1)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 3 years ago | (#33152880)

no child left behind and the cert mess = tech just the test and with certification alot of the time they are way off base from the real world or set in a world of free M$ software that in many places will no much to set up how some of the cert tests have things setup.

I don't think I've ever commented on someone's grammar before but, Damn! You want to try that again?

Re:no child left behind and the cert mess = tech t (1)

ErikZ (55491) | more than 3 years ago | (#33152904)

Yeah, because before that, teachers NEVER taught for the test.

Oh the joyous days of pure theory and understanding the subject matter, I'd miss you if you ever existed.

For education to progress, we need standardized testing. Period.

Re:no child left behind and the cert mess = tech t (1)

dcollins (135727) | more than 3 years ago | (#33153702)

You may possibly win an award for the most unreadable three lines I've ever seen on Slashdot.

Just for starters, let me introduce you to my pet, the "alot": http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2010/04/alot-is-better-than-you-at-everything.html [blogspot.com]

That's how it was in my school (4, Insightful)

Nursie (632944) | more than 3 years ago | (#33152562)

About 15 years ago.

I did basic on my C64, and various other things on other machines we had at home. Then we had school computing class which taught us how to size and colour a font, put together a spreadsheet and other such guff.

Later I got a programmable casio calculator and programmed that. Somehow it didn't occur to me to actually go into computers until I was 18. No thanks at all to the school.

Re:That's how it was in my school (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33152942)

You had a C64 in 1995?

Re:That's how it was in my school (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33153056)

Sounds about right for a public school to me.

Re:That's how it was in my school (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 3 years ago | (#33153070)

1. Crap! I'm older than I thought! Computing class was actually nearer 20 years ago...

2. We had the C64 in the 80s, I programmed and played with other things after that. There was an implied chronology in my original post. Or there was meant to be, perhaps I left it out.

Re:That's how it was in my school (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33153136)

No. He was describing his high school about 15 years ago (~1995). If he started programming as early as many of us, he could've been using the C64 as early as 1985.

Re:That's how it was in my school (1)

KillaBeave (1037250) | more than 3 years ago | (#33153710)

It's amazing that someone else had the exact same experience I had. Except my intro to actual programming was a TI-85. Computer classes were more like typing classes.

I did take Pascal as an elective in HS though. The class ended up being really lame though, learned more programming the TI-85 to cheat at chemistry.

Meeeemmmmoriiiieeeesssss

8-bits for education (5, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#33152610)

The best thing you could do to really educate kids about computing, and not just train them on windows apps is to get them started with 8-bit computers. Yes, BASIC is awful for real development, but it was designed for education and it does this quite well. Removing all the layers of abstraction from modern PCs forces you to really understand what the computer is doing. While the skills aren't directly transferable to modern PCs, the concepts are, and that's what education is all about.

Re:8-bits for education (1)

Renraku (518261) | more than 3 years ago | (#33153108)

Concepts is about all school is good for teaching anyway. You aren't expected to remember and actually use various special formulas from general chemistry courses in college. You're just expected to be familiar with the concepts, so that if you hear about them again, you already kind of know about them. No employer will (unless you're in a chemistry heavy graduate position) expect you to rattle off all the formulas and such that you need to know. Most likely they have a cheat sheet for those in the labs anyway.

Same thing with programming. No one expects you to be able to jump right into game programming when you get hired into a company. They expect you to be familiar with the concepts and willing to learn their way of doing things (which, even if they use a familiar language, can be very VERY different than what school taught).

Re:8-bits for education (1)

CAIMLAS (41445) | more than 3 years ago | (#33153216)

Nonsense. Nothing can really push a person to learn how a computer works better than a leaky race condition on a slow system. :)

Re:8-bits for education (3, Interesting)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 3 years ago | (#33153240)

I'll agree with you in principle, I think the path should be something like LOGO, then BASIC, then Pascal or C.

I'd suggest starting with LOGO just to get the general concept of programming (along with immediate gratification), BASIC for a short time only to bridge between LOGO and a more advanced language.

Too much time spent using BASIC means a lot of un-learning needs to be done later.

Re:8-bits for education (2, Insightful)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 3 years ago | (#33153658)

Hey! The first computery thing I ever did with a computer was take a LOGO class as an extracurricular thing when I was in third or fourth grade or so. I haven't heard that language mentioned since then. I figured it was some sort of novelty program that died off as I got older or something. I can tell you, however, that if it hadn't been for that class, I wouldn't have ever understood why computers could be so cool. Up until fiddling with that language, I just figured computers were expensive video game consoles.

Thanks for the chance to reminisce!

Start with Python (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#33153800)

I think the path should be something like LOGO, then BASIC, then Pascal or C.

I would start with Python, then most people would never need to learn another language. A small minority would want to learn C, but those would be specialists.

Forget the intro class at all (1)

DesScorp (410532) | more than 3 years ago | (#33153866)

I'll agree with you in principle, I think the path should be something like LOGO, then BASIC, then Pascal or C.

I don't think "computer classes" should deal with programming at all. Programming classes should teach programming. When most kids take "computer classes", it's because they want to use the computer in ways they currently can't. The vast majority of kids would be bored silly writing programs. What they really want is a class that would be more accurately called "Here's how to do neat things with your PC that you don't yet know how to do". Neat to most teenagers is learning to photoshop or edit MP3 files or edit movie files.

They're bored with spreadsheets and word processing in those classes because A), they already know how to do some of that stuff... they grew up with it, and B) it's boring work. Stuff you do at a job. Kids want "computer" to = "fun".

Kids are so used to using computers from an early age that a class on word processing in high school is analogous to a class on "How to use a pencil". They already know the basics. So the answer isn't putting in more stuff that they won't like, and is much harder to do than edit a paragraph in word.

So it's basically time to phase out the "intro to computing class", unless you have, for instance, a lot of poor immigrant kids that have never used a computer. In most schools, they should just break classes up into different subjects now. Here's your class on photoshopping. Here's your class in BASIC. Here's your class in audio editing. Here's your class on Access. The time of the beginning one-size-fits-all computer class is done.

Not just the boring basics (4, Interesting)

proxima (165692) | more than 3 years ago | (#33152626)

Sometimes classes are outright outdated. I had a course around 1999 which was supposedly about computer programming. We spent the first few weeks with only lectures and an incredibly outdated textbook. The teacher (an otherwise okay math teacher) was clearly well behind the times. He lectured about microcomputers, minicomputers and had no idea that most servers by then were basically souped up versions of typical desktop computers.

The language was Pascal, which I suppose is a decent learning language, but we barely scratched the surface of programming ability. For a high-school level class, it was tediously outdated and slow. I truly hope that by now the instruction has moved along and kids are doing more interesting things. There were other interesting courses offered in things like graphic design, web design, etc. but the core programming class had neither much CS theory nor interesting applications. Worst, if you didn't know any better the content in the course would actually mislead you about the state of computing.

All subjects have the "boring basics". The key is the instructor; a good instructor can make the basics of a field really interesting. Unfortunately, being a good programming instructor is hard, and at the K-12 level it is really hard.

Re:Not just the boring basics (1)

Korin43 (881732) | more than 3 years ago | (#33153324)

All subjects have the "boring basics". The key is the instructor; a good instructor can make the basics of a field really interesting. Unfortunately, being a good programming instructor is hard, and at the K-12 level it is really hard.

The basics don't have to be boring. To give you an example, I've never liked or paid any attention to English or typing classes. Today, I can type faster than any of my typing teachers in Junior High or High School, and have nearly-perfect spelling. Did I learn them as "boring basics"? Of course not. I played video games, used instant messengers and joined some forums. My typing also got a lot better after learning to program.

The moral of the story? You'll learn the basics if you actually need them. They're only boring because you're learning how to do something you don't need to do.

Re:Not just the boring basics (1)

elmodog (1064698) | more than 3 years ago | (#33153410)

I can type fast as well. It helps that I have been typing essentially every day for the past 15 years. I think it also helped that I had a really fun typing class in 9th grade. Everything was a game. You got a high score by typing fast and avoiding mistakes.

Re:Not just the boring basics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33153692)

You really think English class is just learning how to spell?

Ontario (1)

SilverHatHacker (1381259) | more than 3 years ago | (#33152688)

My grade 10 and 11 computer science classes taught programming, but there was one problem: it was in Turing. For those of you who don't know, Turing is a simple language similar to Pascal that is only used in Ontario. The textbooks are from 1989 (refer to Mac OS 7 and the ICON computer). The funny thing is that the school paid for the IDE (which contains the only compiler in existence), so they wouldn't let students take a copy home (dang proprietary software!). (Un)fortunately, the company behind the language went under and they released it as freeware, along with a PDF copy of our textbooks.
Learning in Turing is enough to drive most people away from computers. The developers tried to make it a more powerful language by converting it to object-oriented part way through its life cycle, so its a bastardized hybrid. No bindings for external things, either; no SQL, no system widget toolkits. You had to work with whatever they decided to build in to the language. Some of us (the real programmers) could work with what we had; most couldn't. By grade 12 we finally moved on to Java, but most of the students were traumatized by then.

Computer science is maturing like other sciences (4, Insightful)

line-bundle (235965) | more than 3 years ago | (#33152762)

Computer science was new and wonderful twenty, perhaps thirty years ago. You could learn a large area of the field even in high school. There were things to discover, things to do, things to share.

Then the commodity computer came and software behemoth companies. For almost anything now there are commercial apps which can do whatever you do faster better and at a level of generality you would never imagine. Wanna write a program plot a graph? There's Mathematica which does it in color.

It's very hard to teach anything interesting if the home computer can do it better and faster. The iPhone programming craze did get people interested in programming again, but I guess that's over now.

Computer science has to realize they are now living in reality like other sciences, low attendance, low interest, and students who either get it or don't. I found when I was teaching college math that freshman calc was the worst possible thing to teach. Anybody interested in math would skip it because they got it long ago. So it will be in Computer science.

Re:Computer science is maturing like other science (1)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 3 years ago | (#33153772)

I taught myself programming from 8th grade. Basic, C, Perl, even some FORTRAN and Z80 assembler. After high school, I did an internship at a DOE lab, coding in C. When I got to college, intro comp sci in Java was so easy, and boring, that I just couldn't take it. The school wouldn't let me try and CLEP to higher levels, and I wasn't willing to suffer. I switched departments, studied literature and history, and now make my living doing computer stuff (most of my coding is in Perl these days, and some C, mostly with FreeBSD and some Linux. Last job was Linux-only).

I could probably benefit from taking a rigorous data structures/algorithms class, but I'm not mostly a programmer but a system administrator. I started out with old shit computers as a kid 'cause I was interested, kept up with it, and it keeps me employed now (unlike nearly everyone that I had class with in the English department). The point being, those with the interest are going to have the interest, and just need the right opportunities to excel. Being forced to learn Excel isn't the same thing.

The big problem is probably educators and laymen confusing 'microcomputer applications', ie, basic office computer skills, with computer science and/or IT. If I thought I was in a computer science program and all I ever did was talk about a quick brown fox jumping over the lazy dog, well, I'd give up, too.

kids aren't stupid (2, Insightful)

Bill Dog (726542) | more than 3 years ago | (#33152770)

They know computing skills are a dead-end pursuit in the first world.

Re:kids aren't stupid (2, Interesting)

scamper_22 (1073470) | more than 3 years ago | (#33153628)

And this is what surprises me.

We always get these articles... cool ways to teach kids... problems in educations...

I hate to break it to Mr.ARM... but not everyone finds computing interesting. People have different interests.

More importantly though is the job issue. Kids are not going to invest the time into the field without good and stable job prospects.
Those do not exist.

Hence the kids who could be your engineers and developers are now being doctors, nurses, teachers, lawyers...
How many of us really bright people who went into the field would have taken the 'safe professional' route if we could do it over again?
I certainly would. Heck, I became a teacher... just no full time jobs here in Ontario, Canada... or I'd be a teacher right now.
It's a much nice life.

Which brings us to another conundrum that makes me more suspicious. The motives of the education industry.
I hate to break it to them, but increasing money on education is not going to make us more educated and better prepared in industry.
It's just going to draw more people who should be in industry... to work the education system.
Basically it will have a counter-effect of actually reducing the nations competitiveness.

America and most western countries have kids who are more than capable of being top engineers and scientists.
We are more than educated
We just choose not to do such work.
And I don't blame the kids.

Make engineering a better profession and maybe you can get some kids back. But it's going to take a generation or two.
Lord knows, if my kids ever even mention being an engineer or a software developer... they're getting a good...talkin to

If they're smart...go into a regulated profession dealing with people that gets government money or mandates (doctors, nurse, lawyer, teacher...)
If they're not that smart... then find any other job.

I just wonder if the policy makers are truly this ignorant. They really have no idea what engineers in the field are thinking. We have no seat at the table. Only economists and the social sciences. Maybe those in power just really never hear our side?

Or maybe they could care less.

Re:kids aren't stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33153810)

I'm a software developer, about 3 years out of university. My mom is a teacher, about 2 years from retirement. We make about the same salary. She has a pension, but other than that our benefits are roughly equivalent. Engineers and CS grads don't go into teaching because the pay is crap, especially when you're starting out. This is why it's hard for schools to find decent CS, maths, and physics teachers.

Re:kids aren't stupid (1)

smegmatic (1145201) | more than 3 years ago | (#33153862)

so you make the same salary as her, you you call her pay "crap"? or are you expecting a 55 year old programmer to keep getting guaranteed raises with guaranteed job security just like a 55 year old teacher?

Re:kids aren't stupid (2, Insightful)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#33153824)

How did this get modded up all the way?

For the longest time the richest man in the world was the owner of the worlds largest computer company, who admittingly was a business man when that fortune came to him but definately was into computers himself.

As far as jobs go - it's sometimes not as exciting as say NBA allstar or Famous Rock Musician - but thats the same as any job.

What - you think someone who takes a course in business management is going to skyrocket with money? You think the accountants are living the high life? Computing is just as dead-end as any other job right now, and even if you don't get into the field the skills go a long way - like being able to program Excel spreadsheets well.

At least with computing - EVERYwhere needs it. Your oil and gas companies need programmers. Your banking institutes need DBA's. Your telecomm needs a network admin. If you mastered the Culinary arts, or construction, or whatever - those are very focussed skills that leave you with only a handful of places to apply.

Re:kids aren't stupid (1)

trb (8509) | more than 3 years ago | (#33153830)

Yes, to say it more plainly, learning to write software didn't become popular because it was cool in itself. It became popular because Bill Gates was the world's wealthiest man, and people became aware of other wealthy software entrepreneurs riding the 1990's internet economic wave. Those people who joined the ranks of the software industry didn't love software, they loved money. And when the money left the picture, so did the crowds of people.

Using a spreadsheet is just using a program (4, Insightful)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#33152800)

It's as if maths was just arithmetic or English was taught as just spelling.

More like, if maths were just learning to use a calculator. Learning to use a spreadsheet or word processor isn't even about computing. If that passes for computing, then driver's ed could replace physics, and home economics chemistry. It's like they thing that if a computer is involved, it has something to do with computer science. But computers are in almost everything these days.

Re:Using a spreadsheet is just using a program (1)

MattBD (1157291) | more than 3 years ago | (#33153414)

I think use of spreadsheets and word processors has no place in an IT class of any kind - business studies would be a much more appropriate class to use these in. How exactly does anyone expect a kid to get interested in computers from using a spreadsheet? I think IT classes should probably include programming in at least one modern object-oriented programming language (probably a scripting language like Python or Ruby, since these are pretty flexible and can be used for many different applications, but are fairly easy to learn), and perhaps the basics of networking, but in an interactive fashion.

Misdiagnosing the problem (1)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 3 years ago | (#33152834)

Modern schooling was designed to inhibit education [johntaylorgatto.com] , not further it.

Once you realize that then everything starts to make sense.

Re:Misdiagnosing the problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33152934)

Is that the work of the Reptilians or the Illuminati?

Re:Misdiagnosing the problem (-1, Flamebait)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 3 years ago | (#33153010)

Neither. Just a bunch of misguided progressives.

Re:Misdiagnosing the problem (2, Insightful)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 3 years ago | (#33153090)

Yes. How horrible that kids were going to school when they were young instead of working in coal mines and getting permanent disabilities before 10. Golly gee, I can't wait to go back to such a world!

Re:Misdiagnosing the problem (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33153286)

Progressives don't give a sh*t about kids, they just want a society engineered for easy control. That's why you'll find them on both sides of the political spectrum. And going off yours and the username of the person you replied to, why sane people don't want to back OR forward, whereas nutcases only want to avoid going back.

I think my experience differs (3, Interesting)

ZERO1ZERO (948669) | more than 3 years ago | (#33152874)

During my time in highscool we covered a number of topics, fundamental to computing. Binary arthmetic, operating systems, hardware and cpus. We used both windows and macintosh systems (Mac classics, and later LCs), and we coded programs on BBC micro computers (the people on macs used an emulator).

The was a great CPU simulator programs on the BBCs and you could step through machine code. We had to write a small assembly program to add some numbers or similar. Of course we also had the office apps lessons with database/spreadsheet/wordproc stuff, mostly using clarisworks.

We also had atari sts in Art and Music departments, and the maths department had BBC micros for things like graphing and simulations on occassion. This was all during the 90's, even my primary school in the 80's had a BBC A and B for things like Funschool [wikipedia.org] etc..

Wake up (0, Flamebait)

qoncept (599709) | more than 3 years ago | (#33152902)

focus too much on teaching kids how to use spreadsheets, word processors and PowerPoint, rather than teaching more challenging areas such as programming.

Yeah. Why teach the applications practical to 95% of white collar jobs instead of programming, which most kids won't be interested in, fewer will 'get' and hardly any will ever do professionally?

'It's as if maths was just arithmetic or English was taught as just spelling. It's not unimportant that you can do arithmetic or you can spell, but it certainly doesn't open up the whole world of interest and challenge, if that's all you do.'

This is just about the worst metaphor I've seen all day. If you only learn to spell, as opposed to learning speech, reading and literature, you aren't actually doing anything productive. Yet what's the common trait of all of the software listed above? It's called "productivity software." School isn't fun. You don't do what you want, you learn what [has aribrarily been decided] you need.

Besides, I know programming is hardly a glamourous, high paying job, but it sure as hell pays a lot better than being a school teacher. What kind of castoffs do you want teaching your classes?

Re:Wake up (1, Insightful)

CAIMLAS (41445) | more than 3 years ago | (#33153180)

Yeah. Why teach the applications practical to 95% of white collar jobs instead of programming, which most kids won't be interested in, fewer will 'get' and hardly any will ever do professionally?

Because it's horizon-broadening and helps them understand the concepts (mathematics, for starters) behind a spreadsheet better than a spreadsheet user typically has the chance to understand?

Isn't the point here to educate, not push them towards a white collar desk job? Why would anyone want to electively pick something like that when you can make something in home economics, shop, ceramics, photography, etc. or do something in gym, orchestra, etc.? Nobody you'd want to work for you, I imagine.

If you only learn to spell, as opposed to learning speech, reading and literature, you aren't actually doing anything productive.

People who just know how to word process and spreadsheet usually can't do those things worth re-using their output. They're not terribly productive, either: ever see one of these people slave over something for a week which would take a common geek (or even someone smart) an hour or two to do, max?

Besides, I know programming is hardly a glamourous, high paying job, but it sure as hell pays a lot better than being a school teacher.

Not in this market, it doesn't.

Re:Wake up (3, Insightful)

Charan (563851) | more than 3 years ago | (#33153348)

Yeah. Why teach the applications practical to 95% of white collar jobs instead of programming, which most kids won't be interested in, fewer will 'get' and hardly any will ever do professionally?

You could say the same about cellular biology, chemistry, quantum mechanics, calculus, and music taught at the high school level. Most people won't professionally develop those skills, but they're better off for having been exposed to the fundamentals. Any maybe out of the breadth of subjects you throw at a young student, they'll find their passion and stick with it. Why exclude programming from that mix?

Re:Wake up (3, Insightful)

need4mospd (1146215) | more than 3 years ago | (#33153480)

Yeah. Why teach the applications practical to 95% of white collar jobs instead of programming, which most kids won't be interested in, fewer will 'get' and hardly any will ever do professionally?

These are kids we're talking about, not job trainees. I agree that programming is probably useless to teach if you were trying to teach them a professional skill, but it's more about teaching them how to use their brain. I was never taught spreadsheets, word processing, or Power Point, yet I did all of these things on a daily basis once I graduated. I was taught how to USE a computer, how to think like a software developer, and most importantly how to teach myself new things using the resources around me.

If I were teaching the class, I'd give them all the necessary tools to learn. And for the final exam, I'd make them perform a few basic tasks in a program they've never seen before. THAT is how I determine if someone knows how to use a computer. Not how good they are at making spreadsheets. Anyways, these are the rambling thoughts of someone that has to train people everyday on software they were supposed to know when they were hired....

Re:Wake up (3, Insightful)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 3 years ago | (#33153536)

Yeah. Why teach the applications practical to 95% of white collar jobs instead of programming, which most kids won't be interested in, fewer will 'get' and hardly any will ever do professionally?

Because we're discussing general education, not trade school?

At the very least, the foundation in logical thought required for programming would be a boon to general education.

Personally, I think students should receive instruction in both programming, and in business applications. They are two very different subjects, and I don't think it should be an either/or situation.

This is just about the worst metaphor I've seen all day. If you only learn to spell, as opposed to learning speech, reading and literature, you aren't actually doing anything productive.

The kind of literary analysis I did in high school wasn't doing anything productive, either -- but the critical analysis skills I developed doing those exercises were very important for me to learn. Just as ancillary skills to programming (logic, etc) are very important for people to learn.

ICT as taught seems BoooOOOoooring (2, Insightful)

Antony T Curtis (89990) | more than 3 years ago | (#33152966)

Bring back the educational BBC TV programmes on computing/programming.
Heck, just do reruns and bring back the old BBC Model B. Kids will learn far more from that than they ever will at schools today.

I have never taken any computing subject at school because of how boring they are. I learnt a lot just by experimenting by myself, buying books, magazines and watching TV. Once upon a time, one used to be able to get great information from magazines and terrestrial television but nowadays, they don't get any more technical than discussing font size and if a case mod with LEDs will make the computer perform better. Pioneering stuff was done years ago on TV, like encouraging people to hack their TVs and pipe the audio to the cassette audio-in on their home computers to try to download a program. It was fun stuff.

Not doing any computing classes at school didn't put a crimp in my career... except perhaps that I never learned to touch-type properly.

Computer classes are too slow (1)

bluhatter (583867) | more than 3 years ago | (#33152978)

The problem for me was that teachers knew absolutely nothing about technology and were expected to teach it. True pupils were not interested in using a word processor or Power Point... we were already writing programs and creating new technology. High school and university were only review. The slow pace of most computer "classes" merely hinders and creates frustration.

Re:Computer classes are too slow (1)

bluhatter (583867) | more than 3 years ago | (#33153014)

To illustrate my own point... in one of my "web development" university classes I had to teach my professor what PHP was. The next semester she was teaching PHP... I did not take that class.

Re:Computer classes are too slow (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 3 years ago | (#33153152)

I bet she was teaching to do page layout using tables, too.

application software training (5, Insightful)

bloosh (649755) | more than 3 years ago | (#33152984)

I am the IT director of a school in the US. I can see first hand that the only thing the "educators" are interested in is training students to use application software. Not only that, it must be the absolute latest version of a certain company's office package. It's so the students will get "real world" training. WTF?

While it indeed is important for students to learn to use these tools, by the time some of these students make it into the workforce, the software that students are trained on (and cost so much money to 'license') is 'obsolete.'

What happened to the concept of teaching concepts? How to produce a document using a word processor and not Microsoft Word 2007? I learned word processing with AppleWorks on an Apple //e. I can churn out a basic document in minutes with any word processor I use. How many kids 'trained' in the exclusive world of Microsoft software will ever be able to do this? I'm very lucky. The administration in the school I work at is not like this. The administration mostly use Windows machines, but the students and teachers all use a mix of Linux thin clients (LTSP!) and Macs. The office package we use is Open Office.

Re:application software training (1)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 3 years ago | (#33153768)

On the other hand, you and I grew up in a world with multiple word processors, each with very different interfaces.

Now your options are Office, or something that's trying to be Office.

The boring basics! (3, Insightful)

paulbiz (585489) | more than 3 years ago | (#33153026)

students are avoiding computing classes because they teach nothing but the boring basics

In fact, when I was forced to go to school I tried to avoid all classes because they all taught nothing but the boring basics.

Microsoft products probably need training (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33153058)

Whenever I'm forced to use Word or Powerpoint at work I find them so unintuitive and their menu layout so archaic and unlike every other programme out there that I understand why people need "training" to use them.
Took me 20 minutes of googling to put some values in a table the other day.

Worry about it when salaries go up (4, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | more than 3 years ago | (#33153120)

There is no "IT personnel shortage" until salaries go up.

As I point out occasionally, "Information Technology" is taking the same path that "stationary engineering" did almost exactly a century century ago. In the 1880s, it was a really big deal if you were the one who could get a steam engine and generator to work together and light up a factory, business, or town. By 1910 or so, it was a routine job. Today, there are still about 25,000 stationary engineers in the United States. It's a good union job. There are electrical engineers designing new equipment, but they're nowhere near the user and have completely different training than the people who install and run the stuff.

That's where IT is going, and it's almost there. Don't worry about it. Just use your iPhone like a good little consumer, and buy your software from Microsoft.

As a sysadmin who has to program from time to time (3, Insightful)

CAIMLAS (41445) | more than 3 years ago | (#33153138)

As a sysadmin who has to program from time to time: yes, spreadsheets and word processors are completely unimportant in many regards. They're different, the skills migrate pretty easily, and the likelihood of having to use the same spreadsheet in 3-5 years is negligible.

Basic spreadsheet computations, or Access stuff? Sure, I suppose. Just please don't use a horrible Microsoft Press book: crammed full of "click here" goodness bullshit, they're mind numbing. They're worse than New Math.

Basic programming is, for a beginner, very satisfying - whether it's shell, perl, or VB. "Look what I made" is very horizon opening, regardless of whether it's a crayon drawing, an ash try, a clock, or a highly advanced artificial intelligence. :)

The problem there is that any AI written by a high schooler is likely to be several hundred iterations more complex than the average school teacher, "computer" teachers included.

Re:As a sysadmin who has to program from time to t (1)

Kral_Blbec (1201285) | more than 3 years ago | (#33153808)

You fool, do you really want to let loose all the HS students in the world to create Skynet?

Because the kids are smarter than the teachers (5, Informative)

Captian Spazzz (1506193) | more than 3 years ago | (#33153226)

In this regard anyway. I remember I avoided PC classes all through school. Why waste elective credits on stuff I already knew and listen to a teacher, who can't progam their own VCR, try to tell me how a PC Functions or tell me the way I type is wrong?

Nothing agianst the treachers but in most cases they barely grasp what they themselves are teaching and its going to be a generation or two before this changes because the technology is new and still in a very rapid state of change.

I remember I didn't take a computer class until high school when they started offering A+ and CCNA and such as elective credits. I took keyboarding because it was a prerequesit, they wouln't waive it. The teacher knew nothing about what he was doing and was infurated with me because he gave me what he was sure was a whole periods worth of work to anybody, and I finished it in 5 minutes. I finaly got kicked out of his class when he sent me to the principals office because I would not respond when he called me "BOY!" It was one of those southren types where everyone in his class was either "BOY!" or "Sugar" He wrote me up for being disrespectful because I pointed out I had no idea he was talking to me because there were about 12 other boys in his class.

Luckily the principal realised how stupid it was and waived the requirement since I obviously could already type faster than I could talk.

Perfhaps the students already know this stuff (1)

mschuyler (197441) | more than 3 years ago | (#33153296)

Way back before there were PCs I learned BASIC in a graduate school course. Today, that is taught, if at all, in elementary school. SURELY today by the time a student gets to college, he or she knows all about word processing, spreadsheets (Long live Lotus 123!) and Powerpoint. Courses on these subjects are largely superfulous. No one with any brains needs them. I see my local community college offers them for the "gotta get retrained" crowd, but other than that colleges might take a good hard look at their courses--and eliminate them.

things havent changed much in 25 years (1)

night_flyer (453866) | more than 3 years ago | (#33153366)

when I was in college, one of the requirements was computer class.
I knew nothing about a computer, what I was taught was how to work a spreadsheet, I almost failed the class.
Because of that experience I didn't touch a computer for ~10 years, until I finally broke down and purchase a 486dx2.
If only I was taught something 10 years ago, it might not have taken me that long to truly appreciate them.

Cretinism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33153422)

During my basic- and highschool studies I have learned MS Office on 3 different years. And you know what, the studies were limited to Excel, Word and Powerpoint. Time well spent, man!

Heh, suckers (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 3 years ago | (#33153656)

I played Oregon trail and Carmen Sandiego in my computer classes. You had to build spreadsheets? Suckers!!

is it worse than math/science avoidence? (3, Insightful)

peter303 (12292) | more than 3 years ago | (#33153752)

Probably a majority of US students dislike math and science classes because they are viewed as "hard". Since they are usually college entrance requirements and computer science usually is not, they are less avoidable in practice.

Ahh the good ol days (1)

Kral_Blbec (1201285) | more than 3 years ago | (#33153760)

I remember taking the mandatory computer class back in HS 10 years ago. It was mostly about how to send an email. Attachments are so hard to figure out!!!
We did a little bit of html and the final project was to code a website with certain criteria. Of course, the teacher didn't know squat and I usually was correcting her, so I made mine very satirical and ended up getting a 0 on it because she hated me. I passed the class by one percentage point. Worst grade I ever got.
Moral of the story, public school teachers suck.

steve furber (1)

jDeepbeep (913892) | more than 3 years ago | (#33153782)

I'd have certainly enjoyed my comp sci courses more if Steve Furber had written all my textbooks. He's completely lucid and hits the balance between technical and readable. His ARM SoC Architecture title is a freakin' gem.

[Citation Needed] (1)

dcollins (135727) | more than 3 years ago | (#33153790)

"Steve Furber — co-founder of Acorn and ARM designer — believes students are avoiding computing classes because they teach nothing but the boring basics."

This is something you could survey students about and determine directly. My alternative hypothesis is that students avoid CS because (exactly like math) it's just too hard for them. My community college students find stepping through a flowchart and assigning some variables almost overwhelmingly, unimaginably difficult.

Apparently... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33153864)

the high school attended by their website designer didn't offer any web design classes - the top paragraph of each page was entirely unreadable.

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