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Teachers Get 1 Week To Test Tech Giants' Hour of Code

Soulskill posted 1 year,11 days | from the what-could-possibly-go-wrong dept.

Programming 81

theodp writes "In a move straight out of Healthcare.gov's playbook, teachers won't get to preview the final lessons they're being asked to roll out to 10 million U.S. students until a week before the Dec. 9th launch of the Hour of Code nation-wide learn-to-code initiative, according to a video explaining the project, which is backed by the nation's tech giants, including Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, Google, and Amazon. The Hour of Code tutorial page showcased to the press sports Lorem Ipsum pseudo-Latin text instead of real content, promised tutorial software is still being developed by Microsoft and Google, and celebrity tutorials by Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg are still a work-in-progress. With their vast resources and deep pockets, the companies involved can still probably pull something off, but why risk disaster for such a high-stakes effort with a last-minute rush? One possible explanation is that CS Education Week, a heretofore little-recognized event, is coming up soon. Then again, tech immigration reform is back on the front burner, an initiative that's also near-and-dear to many of same players behind Hour of Code, including Microsoft Chief Counsel Brad Smith who, during the Hour of Code kickoff press conference, boasted that Microsoft's more-high-tech-visas-for-U.S.-kids-computer-science-education deal found its way into the Senate Immigration Bill, but minutes later joined his fellow FWD.us panelists to dismiss a questioner's suggestion that Hour of Code might somehow be part of a larger self-serving tech industry interest."

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10M students? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45179193)

I doubt they have more than 10k even following the program. A high school lesson plan doesn't change because some tech giants are trying to score some political points.

Re:10M students? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45179297)

I doubt they have more than 10k even following the program. A high school lesson plan doesn't change because some tech giants are trying to score some political points.

(different AC here) The politician wants his name on CS Education Week, because jobs. The tech giant views a potemkin village of a learn-to-code PR stunt as the cost of doing business.

The high school lesson plan doesn't even have to exist in order for some tech giants to score some political points.

Re:10M students? (1)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | 1 year,10 days | (#45180735)

The high school lesson plan doesn't even have to exist in order for some tech giants to score some political points.

So, it's really "CS Education Weak"?

Re:10M students? (4, Interesting)

Joce640k (829181) | 1 year,11 days | (#45179367)

The BBC already did this back in 1982:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jtMWEiCdsfc [youtube.com]

(Warning: Actual typing of computer code on TV...)

Re:10M students? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,10 days | (#45179753)

Let's also not forget Fred Harris on 'the other channel' programming in Basic on the ZX Spectrum and Acorn Electron:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3oNOE3F77Wk

Or this, available at every newsagent:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Home_Computer_Course

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMZs47JlRAo

Re:10M students? (2)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | 1 year,10 days | (#45179823)

Yeah, but that was managed by a public-owned corporation.

There are a few things that big business does excellently - like build an efficient workhouse in C19 England or C21 China, without letting pesky human dignity get in the way - but education has never been one of them.

It's not political points (1)

rsilvergun (571051) | 1 year,10 days | (#45181669)

the corps are tired of paying top dollar for programmers. India generates all the .Net and SQL hacks they need, but guys that can write huge Big Data DB systems are still scarce enough they cost real money. Plus after 20 years of outsourcing as much as they can they're having a hard time getting people interested in a career that isn't there... So they're pouring money into making more programmers. They did the same with the Nursing industry and managed to drop wages there quite a bit.

Lesson in software development (4, Informative)

MrEricSir (398214) | 1 year,11 days | (#45179195)

Even if the kids won't get a lesson in computer science, they'll get a lesson in what happens when software development is rushed.

Re:Lesson in software development (3, Insightful)

symbolset (646467) | 1 year,11 days | (#45179357)

If you thought your kids were getting a proper education in public school you might want to think again. My rule is that I teach my kids math, science and art - and then I send them to public school not to learn stuff, but to learn what is taught there so they can understand where their peers are coming from. My youngest: "people are stupid." Yes dear, but you have to deal with them anyway.

Re:Lesson in software development (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45179465)

If you thought your kids were getting a proper education in public school you might want to think again.

Maybe I'm just a bit slow, but I never really learned much in the classroom, per se. I found that the material just went by too fast. If I actually stopped to think about something (e.g. why trigonometric functions can't be calculated from finite algebraic expressions) then I would miss big parts of the lectures. So I saw the classroom as a place to be exposed to a whole variety of ideas - some of which I was already familiar with but others that were new that I would have to think/read about later on my own. Essentially, I did my actual learning on my own - thinking things over in the shower - or on the bus ride home - or finding books in library that discussed topics of particular interest in more detail.

That's not to say classroom instruction couldn't be improved. Imagine if the federal government spent a trillion dollars (i.e. the cost of the Iraq war) on developing a set of really high quality educational videos - by the very top specialists (e.g. science professors) in their fields - along with high quality figures, animations, etc. It's almost certain that such videos would be substantially better than the typical high school classroom lecture. But, then again, if we instead spent that trillion dollars on new research then we would almost certainly end up with a whole lot of exciting material/discoveries to teach - that we wouldn't have if we only focused on teaching what is currently known.

My youngest: "people are stupid." Yes dear, but you have to deal with them anyway.

I went to high school in a fairly small town - just a hundred thousand people in the town and surrounding area. But we only had one (public) high school so we had about 700 students in each grade. There were a whole variety of "honors" classes for the more academically inclined students. But they also took roughly the top 30 students out of the 700 total in the grade and they let them take special "academically gifted" classes together. I was lucky enough to take some of those "academically gifted" classes and my peers in those classes sure weren't stupid. I was lucky enough to get to go to MIT for college and my peers in those academically gifted high school classes were just as smart and motivated as my peers at MIT - although, mostly for financial reasons, not all my peers in high school ended up doing the Ivy League thing for college.

One of the key problems I see with public schools in the USA is the notion that public schools should be funded and administered at the local level. As a consequence, you get relatively wealthy communities (such as the town where I grew up) where the public schools are just good as all but the very top private schools in the country. But then you get poor communities where the public schools are so bad that learning is basically impossible. It's really shocking that, in a country as wealthy as the USA, it's considered acceptable to have communities with such poor quality schools. But then the tea party wants to make it even worse - weakening the federal government even further to allow many communities to slip even further into poverty and dysfunction.

Re:Lesson in software development (5, Insightful)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | 1 year,11 days | (#45179569)

I invite you to get out into the countryside, and to learn about those local schools.

I'm a transplant to Arkansas. I attended a relatively wealthy school district in Pennsylvania. My wife grew up here. She attended a high school where the graduating class ranged from ten to thirty students over a one hundred year history. That little school excelled. I mean, it seriously excelled. Students routinely placed very high in all college tests, military tests, you name it.

Soon after our kids started school in that same school, governor Bill Clinton made it his business to start consolidating smaller schools with larger schools. Our kids attended k-6 in the old school building, but the high school kids were being bussed to another school, in another county. Today - the old small school system is completely gone - everyone is bussed somewhere.

And - all of the schools involved have attained a roughly equal level of mediocrity.

Excellence in education doesn't depend on large sums of money. Really, it doesn't. The fact is, schools that have a lot of money today, tend to spend that money on sports, rather than education.

http://espn.go.com/dallas/story/_/id/8323104/allen-texas-high-school-ready-unveils-60m-football-facility [go.com]

Re:Lesson in software development (1)

grep -v '.*' * (780312) | 1 year,10 days | (#45182847)

Welcome to Arkansas!

I'm a native and back when "Slick Willie" Bill was the gov running for president my line was: "Lets all vote for Bill -- get him out of Arkansas!" But I never thought everyone would take me seriously. :-)

The high school I went to [lrsd3.org] had ~150 in the graduating class each year, so let's say a population of ~500 yearly. We had students win awards (1st prize, not just for "showing up") in different regional and state competitions. Most students did not though -- and I think a lot of that was teacher attention as well as student attitudes and "intelligence". We all had droning-on-forever lessons and classwork which we didn't like, but we also had discussions, teacher help, and would even occasionally help each other out for a few minutes in class, especially if most if everyone had similar problems. I was on both the giving and receiving end of this. (OMG: could you see the administrators and unions reactions if they knew students were teaching other students classwork? Back then, I think it would have been "That's nice" or "Well of course." Now-a-days I'm not so sure.)

As money dwindles, more and more centrally organized schools will be forced to consolidate. We're not that densely populated -- so that's not necessarily a bad thing, but the further kids have to travel the worse it is no matter what the reason. I think we need local schools with regional and state COORDINATION, not direct CONTROL.

I also think "No Child Left Behind" translates to "No Child Gets Ahead." Government is at it's best when normalizing things to a crushing minimum. And because the legislators are there and feel the need to justify their continued existence, they feel they have to do more and more "for" us.

Heaven help us with our government (state and federal), and I'm an atheist in this land of Religion [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Lesson in software development (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,10 days | (#45180619)

I went to high school in a fairly small town - just a hundred thousand people in the town and surrounding area. But we only had one (public) high school so we had about 700 students in each grade. There were a whole variety of "honors" classes for the more academically inclined students. But they also took roughly the top 30 students out of the 700 total in the grade and they let them take special "academically gifted" classes together.

100,000 people is a "small town"? Try a town where the pop has never reached 6,000 and surrounding area included never cracked 10,000. The high school I went to was in a small town that at its peek was *maybe* 4,000 including surrounding areas. The "academic" classes were the French Immersion, where all the subjects they could teach were in French, and any they didn't have a French teacher for were in English. You had 700 in each grade? I don't think we had 700 from K-12. The sub 6,000 pop town I'm in now has between 400 and 600 students in the 9-12 high school depending on the year.

People *are* stupid. A person can be smart. When you have "gifted" students in a group, they are treated as persons, not as people. The rest of the school population are treated as people, so while there were probably some smart persons in the "non gifted" population, they were treated as stupid people by the system. My schools treated everyone as people, excepting the 1-2% (ie less than 5) students that had the drive to excel in the soul crushing system.

Note: I'm from Canada, where the schools are all provincially (state) funded based on population. (Meaning the bigger city schools with more kids get more money than the small town schools) Also it is still up to individual administration on how to spend this money (and any donations/fundraising). This leads to school A having administration being proactive in technology and using their money to acquire things above and beyond what is provided as a baseline. School B administration only does bare minimum, uses extra money for other things, then whines and moans that school A has more than them. This also leads to a rift when school A students and school B students come together at school C. School C can not start everyone on equal footing because school A students have had more opportunity and training than school B.

I wish I could have gone to MIT, or indeed any college/university that was actually known for something, but before I was even part way through my first year of high school, I found out my school didn't even offer some of the pre-requisite courses (and the "big city" schools did)

There are many many things wrong with public education in both Canada and USA. Funding, administration, access levels, disillusionment of teaching staff, and many other factors are all to blame.

Re:Lesson in software development (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | 1 year,10 days | (#45181205)

Same as when you do a CCNA, CCNP and CCIE you have to learn what cisco thinks to pass the exams and bite you lip at some of the oddities - unless your like the Guy from BT Labs who on only getting 98% in his CCIE wrote a personal letter to john chambers pointing out why the CCIE exam was wrong - he was one of the three inventors of Ethernet though:-)

Re:Lesson in software development (1)

Bite The Pillow (3087109) | 1 year,9 days | (#45193719)

Education discussion? Time to talk about how public school sucks. Amirite? Considering the post you're replying to had nothing to do with public school quality?

You will have good schools and bad schools, good teachers and bad teachers. The question here is, whether a good teacher can do anything with this. Teachers can make something of the worst lesson plans, but this doesn't seem to qualify.

Re:Lesson in software development (1)

symbolset (646467) | 1 year,9 days | (#45198129)

I am a huge fan our our public school teachers. I don't envy their challenges. If more parents shared the load I think it would help. By taking responsibility for ensuring my own students get a chance to meet a reasonable standard without relying on their teacher to hold their hand, hopefully some other student gets an enhanced opportunity as well.

Re:Lesson in software development (1)

currently_awake (1248758) | 1 year,10 days | (#45180125)

Just in time production is the latest rage in manufacturing. You make stuff and ship it just before it's needed. The government better hope there are no cost overruns, it's hard to negotiate the price when finals are due next week.

Re:Lesson in software development (1)

svanheulen (901014) | 1 year,10 days | (#45180821)

The main problem with this isn't that it's so rushed. It's that most of the students that will be taught this are computer illiterate. It's always surprising to me how even young tech savvy people don't even know the basics of file systems, or the difference between a hard drive and RAM.

Re:Lesson in theodp (1)

Bite The Pillow (3087109) | 1 year,9 days | (#45194143)

They won't even get that. Teachers who participate (it is optional, so no one is being forced to teach something with a week or less to prepare) can win prizes, and students who attend a follow-up course can win stuff for themselves. Sounds like bribery to me.

Besides, I don't think it is important that things are incomplete, since the week designated is December 9-15. Plenty of time, and I don't think this qualifies as rushed.

And, they probably won't do much in the way of actual code. "Designed as a game that teaches basic coding principles, it will feature guest lectures by technologists including Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg and artwork from popular games"

There is a blurb at the CS education week site http://csedweek.org/ [csedweek.org] "No math needed. No computers either."

"Weâ(TM)ll host a variety of hour-long tutorials
on the http://csedweek.orgwebsite/ [csedweek.orgwebsite] for
students to doâ"some developed by
Code.org, others developed by partner
organizations. Many of the tutorials will be
compatible with tablets and smartphones,
and there will be some âoeunpluggedâ lessons
that require no computer at all. "

So you would have to at least preview each one to see which tutorial to show for that hour. Lots more time involved.

One actual demo, "Blockly", is putting code blocks together like legos, and it isn't completely terrible.

link [appspot.com]

Bookend with some talking heads, and you got an hour without talking or touching code.

Wut? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45179197)

The whole thing sounds like a gigantic boondoggle, the chance is 100% all the kids are going to snooze right through it.

Apt name (1)

Empiric (675968) | 1 year,11 days | (#45179215)

The Hour of Code, dedicated to minimizing the tech giants' cost per Hour of Code.

Re:Apt name (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45179319)

I've been suspicious of the recent tech industry push for more programming. Writing code is great and all that, but there seemed to be something odd going on.
Currently the US is heavily promoting programming via campaigns like the one listed here. The UK is doing the same. A few weeks ago David Cameron even mentioned the subject in his speech, which pretty much proved how the whole thing is a PR wheeze by the giant corps. Here's what Dave had to say:
http://www.newstatesman.com/staggers/2013/10/david-camerons-speech-conservative-party-conference-2013-full-text

'We've ended the dumbing down in exams.
For the first time - children in our schools will learn the new language of computer coding.'

Here's the problem, Mr Cameron went to our finest private school. He would have been in education during the 80s when his idol Mrs T was running a similar programming campaign (only in BBC Basic). He also couldn't have failed to miss the UK 80s computer boom.

Yet from his speech he seems slightly clueless & factually wrong. We've had similar from other ministers who appear to be reading from policy sheets things they personally have no knowledge of.

Here's another tech promoter in a video about women in computers:
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/video/2013/sep/30/arts-degree-tuition-fees-video-debate

Yes, this woman is arguing that being multilingual in Europe is a waste of time & we should all learn the mysterious language of 'Code'. The depressing thing is she's pretty much invalidating her own argument as a) Her degree was such a 'waste of time' she ended up working at one of the top ad agencies in the world and b) She's not exactly prehistoric, why isn't she self-learning some computer science and being an inspiration to young women?

Hence at least here in the UK the people promoting these campaigns appear to be pushing this elaborate fantasy to kids that if they 'code' then they can be the next Bill Gates. Sure, it might happen but isn't this as dishonest as telling five years olds to keep up the singing as they're going to be the new Beatles?

Looks to me like the IT industry wants to get themselves lots and lots of cheap labour in the near future and realise that semi-employed teenagers can do many low-level jobs for beer money. Meanwhile the kids who can write 'hello world' in Python will get a big fucking shock when they come across the complexity of real production code or realise they require extensive scientific knowledge to understand it.

Re:Apt name (1)

Joce640k (829181) | 1 year,11 days | (#45179435)

For the first time - children in our schools will learn the new language of computer coding.'

That's a lie.

I was taught BASIC in a UK school back in the 1980s (on a Commodore PET...)

What's next? iPads for every child to learn 'coding' on? (it's government+payola so that wouldn't surprise me...)

Re:Apt name (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45179511)

Writing Lua code in Codea, or using any of the many Python ports, is a great way to learn coding on the iPad. And then you go to one of the 99% of classes that involve no coding at all and use the iPad for those subjects (textbooks, interactive apps like Elements etc.)

Re:Apt name (1)

Joce640k (829181) | 1 year,10 days | (#45179921)

Writing Lua code in Codea, or using any of the many Python ports, is a great way to learn coding on the iPad.

Maybe, but it's still "coding on the iPad".

A small laptop+Arduino+LEDs would be 1000000% more useful/educational.

Re:Apt name (1)

Joce640k (829181) | 1 year,10 days | (#45179947)

...or even a Raspberry Pi - which can be "re-imaged" in seconds (put in a different SD card) instead of all the maintenance work that a Windows laptop needs.

With an iPad the kids will be constantly thinking of all the talking cats lurking in the background instead of what you want them to be thinking.

Re:Apt name (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,10 days | (#45179773)

Yep, here's some programming in a UK school in an episode of Tomorrow's World circa 1969:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/archive/tomorrowsworld/8008.shtml

I do think you're right about government payola. Let's be honest - if the aim was to teach programming then schools could happily use their standard PCs with free language downloads & tutorials. With the money saved not buying iPads or Pis they could train more teachers in actual computer science.

Re:Apt name (1)

Joce640k (829181) | 1 year,10 days | (#45179989)

I do think you're right about government payola. Let's be honest - if the aim was to teach programming then schools could happily use their standard PCs with free language downloads & tutorials. With the money saved not buying iPads or Pis they could train more teachers in actual computer science.

I just can't imagine that Microsoft is going to sit there if this program advocates buying Apple products for all the kids.

Or Apple just sitting there if they use Windows laptops or Android devices instead of iPads. ....or any other combination of Microsoft/Apple/Google/Amazon you care to pick. All of them have massive corporate agendas (and probably only signed up so they can throw spanners in the works if it looks like the program isn't going towards their platform).

Re:Apt name (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | 1 year,10 days | (#45181267)

CECIL and BASIC for me in the 70's

Re:Apt name (1)

Opportunist (166417) | 1 year,11 days | (#45179443)

Well, DUH.

Look around you. Everyone and their dog learned that with MINT degree the average business leader will look at you as some sort of menial labor idiot while he himself considers his business degree the be-all, end-all pinnacle of education. Take a wild guess what everyone and their dog wants to study.

This in turn is of course not what business leaders want, since that kinda tells people that their precious BA degrees are a dime a dozen while MINT students get rare. And they don't really enjoy the idea that supply and demand works against them.

So kids should go MINT. But frankly, from a monetary point of view I cannot entertain that idea. Bluntly, MINT is strictly for you if you're interested in it, if money is all you care about, go BA. As history shows, you don't even have to be halfway decent to get decent money, which isn't the case with MINT.

Two culture Re:Apt name (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | 1 year,10 days | (#45181257)

David Cameron and 99% of all UK politicians come from the Liberal arts tradition and in the UK there is a very high wall between us oily and greasy engineers and scientists and in Davids milieu there is a prejudice against "girly swots" which is why Boris Johnson plays the fool so much.

The last time the Torys had a scientist was Mrs T and the rest of the party dont really want to go back to being hand bagged - its also why dodgy schemes like free schools get so much traction there are no politicians who will analys the suggested schemes properly.

This can't be good (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45179221)

Hip, up-to-the-moment name? Check
Tutorials by industry legends? Check
Backed by the top companies in the IT business? Check
D-Day style simultaneous rollout to multiple millions of customers? Check
Nothing less than our nation's future may be at stake? Check

Uh oh.

Re:This can't be good (1)

connor4312 (2608277) | 1 year,11 days | (#45179317)

I completely agree. Spending one hour of class time teaching students how to code and giving them a glimpse into the CS world could seriously endanger the nation's future as a country with a population less educated than the global average!

Re:This can't be good (2)

Saei (3133199) | 1 year,11 days | (#45179395)

Global average? Oh, I doubt that very much. Perhaps lower than other countries with comparable wealth, or countries in the first world in general -- but the world average? Don't exaggerate / be so alarmist.

Re:This can't be good (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,10 days | (#45180999)

Lower than the GDP-weighted average.

Re:This can't be good (1)

lxs (131946) | 1 year,11 days | (#45179339)

Hip, up-to-the-moment name? Check

Can we uncheck that one please? [wikipedia.org] Thanks.

Re:This can't be good (1)

ATMAvatar (648864) | 1 year,10 days | (#45181033)

That only makes it retro, which is even *more* hip.

Microsoft? (2)

1s44c (552956) | 1 year,11 days | (#45179291)

Tutorial software by Microsoft in a tight timeline. What could possibly go wrong?

webCT (1)

basecastula (2556196) | 1 year,11 days | (#45179427)

WebCt.

Re:Microsoft? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | 1 year,11 days | (#45179447)

The next patch.

Re:Microsoft? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,10 days | (#45179893)

They had a previous version which was done with a leisurely timeline to base it on ya know:
Bob [wikipedia.org] .

This is gonna work out really well.

Better advice... (5, Interesting)

real-modo (1460457) | 1 year,11 days | (#45179309)

* Learn to habitually apply critical thinking. Why would Microsoft want "every American student to have the opportunity to learn computer science"--a somewhat advanced branch of mathematics? That's right: it doesn't. It wants an oversupply of employees in "computing occupations". (Quotes from the linked technet blog post).

BUT, don't apply critical thinking out loud at work. That's non-career-advancing. Use it in your meta-employment strategy.

* Learn persuasion and negotiation skills: applied (cod-) psychology topics such as body language, emotional intelligence, rhetoric. Join Toastmasters. Develop a wide circle of acquaintances in lots of different industries and occupations--it's the "weak connections" that get you jobs.

* Learn the elements of employment law.

* Learn how to cooperate effectively with your fellow employees. Which means doing the shit work, at least some of the time, especially at the start.

If you want to become one of the -l-i-z-a-r-d--p-e-o-p-l-e- 1%:-

* learn what it takes. Here's a very introductory primer: The Gervais Principle [ribbonfarm.com] .

Re:Better advice... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45179503)

Why would Microsoft want to inflict CS education on everyone? Simple: They want people to get used to the idea of treating everything like it's a computer. Including other people. You run your program and never question. You obey instructions. You don't think. You don't feel. You just do. And thus, they control.

Re:Better advice... (1)

Your.Master (1088569) | 1 year,11 days | (#45179563)

It wants an oversupply of employees in "computing occupations"

Oh come on. Extend this thinking to its logical conclusion and you'll realise we should have schools actively work against education in all fields to keep up salaries in all fields.

Re:Better advice... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,10 days | (#45181207)

Well, it's pretty obvious that public schools work against education. Usually children are beaten and stuffed into lockers for being smart. Maybe your theory about why public schools work to discourage education is correct.

I was waiting for this to attain +5 (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,10 days | (#45180621)

This is the top level of interesting comments provided at Slashdot today

Microsoft to head this...in a rushed manner? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45179325)

This can't be good. The kids are going to get a bad impression and will stay further away than they would have otherwise.

Re:Microsoft to head this...in a rushed manner? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45179343)

I've heard that sailors used teach the new ship's cat to fear the ocean by dragging it on a rope through the wake of the ship for a couple of minutes. Likewise this may appear cruel but it is for the kids' own good.

Tech industry hypocrisy (1)

macraig (621737) | 1 year,11 days | (#45179329)

The sociopaths running many of the nation's tech corporations, whether they be software or hardware engineering, have no desire whatsoever to encourage a larger American workforce for those industries. The reason for that lack of motivation is simple: such a workforce educated here would expect higher salaries to pay off their enormous student loans (for institutions with massive tuitions used to subsidize profit-seeking research and not education) and would thus diminish their profit more than a similarly educated immigrant or outsourced workforce. They and their peers in other industries of course could sacrifice excess profit and reduce the prices of their goods, thus reducing inflation and the nationwide cost of living and allowing people to live on lower wages, but why would sociopaths do that?

Re:Tech industry hypocrisy (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45179353)

Good point, but the salary issue may be different in the UK. The government wants to ban the under-25s from claiming welfare even though we currently have high youth unemployment. Instead of dole they'll be told to do an apprenticeship (not many about), training (similarly spotty availability) or work.

If there aren't the jobs they'll be forced to work not for minimum wage, but for workfare levels equal to benefits. There are going to be tens of thousands of under 25s with skills & degrees who can't find full-time positions. Hence they'll be decanted to companies as free labour, which I would guess would drop the level of wages right down. So it will be possible for them to hire local workers and get away with the salary thing. Ironically this will overall increase welfare costs as the government will have to pay the workfare wages while the companies are off the hook. Meanwhile the people cheerleading 'work for welfare' will freak out when they realise the new army of unemployed youngsters are doing their jobs for free...

Re:Tech industry hypocrisy (1)

macraig (621737) | 1 year,10 days | (#45180483)

I wonder if an analog to that could ever exist in the United States.

Re:Tech industry hypocrisy (1)

SerenelyHotPest (2970223) | 1 year,10 days | (#45181605)

I have mod points but will not be modding you down, though I hope I can show that your case is misguided and unsound.

You're not wrong in saying that there are sociopaths--or at least very empathy deficient people--in Silicon Valley. Friends of mine work with business magnates in that area, I know for a fact that they're are. I'm not convinced, however, that there are a higher proportion of sociopaths in information technology or software engineering than in, say, law or petroleum engineering. The way you've tried to fit the information technology push into some broad, overarching conspiracy to convert America's young people into thoughtless worker drones makes no sense.

Consider the following: If an outsourced workforce, otherwise competitive with American labor, is prepared to work harder for less money, why hire expensive students trying to pay off student loans at all? For that matter, why encourage them to seek an expensive computer science education at Cornell or Rice or Carnegie Mellon, especially considering that such an education is likely to make them less effective drones if they have any exposure to political history in school? How does being saddled with debt for a technical education make you more likely to seek a disposable job (one you could be trained to do at a technical college in two years for a few thousand dollars) or less likely to start a competing company?

If this campaign is self-interested, and I have every reason to think that it is, I see two possible motives: one, they aren't able to find enough skilled people to fill the positions they have anywhere, and in certain pockets of their industry, this may well be the case; two, they recognize that a stagnant economy is unlikely to support growth in their own ventures and want more people starting innovative businesses to fuel a cycle of economic growth. In either case, I fail to see how, at least for the foreseeable future, this isn't in the interest of the young people being involved. I remember having corporate propaganda funneled into my head through public schooling on a biweekly basis (with which parents seemed perfectly fine, I might add), and I can honestly say that this would easily be the most welcome and constructive supplemental material for the year.

As a young person, I often hear thoughtful parents complaining about the influence of corporations skewing the public school system as a whole towards the creation of worker bees, but a minority of even them seem interested in doing anything about it that takes meaningful work or commitment. Let's say, for the sake of argument, that you're a parent (and you may well be): what are you doing to ensure your children are being taught to think critically, recognize and self-protect against the sociopathic (to use your word) behavior of their employers and develop scarce skills that will make them good citizens and globally competitive workers/entrepreneurs? If you could easily and thoroughly answer this question, then congratulations, you'd have very little to worry about! Otherwise, I'd offer that you were blaming people you know to be self-interested for behaving predictably and doing little to prevent it.

Re:Tech industry hypocrisy (1)

macraig (621737) | 1 year,10 days | (#45184823)

... information technology push into some broad, overarching conspiracy to convert America's young people into thoughtless worker drones makes no sense.

I didn't say or mean to say that this/these programs had that agenda. Rather I think that is specifically not their agenda, though I don't know what it is otherwise... simple marketing?

... fuel a cycle of economic growth.

== Ponzi scheme (that benefits you-know-who)

... what are you doing...?

I don't have kids and not much influence on education otherwise, but I've mentored (twice-)gifted kids. People I call friends tend to be critical thinkers to the last man and I really find it frustrating talking with people who aren't, so I'd have to jump way outside my comfort zone to even begin to do something more. In any case there's precious little we can do to actually prevent that "predictable" behavior short of having another revolution (which as we should know is even then just a temporary band-aid that might last a generation if we were lucky). Our society is fully tolerant of and even encourages it. A populace dominated by critical thinkers might discourage it, but what civilization ever had that demographic?

Better than nothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45179347)

I've spent the last 15 years at a college/university that doesn't recognize the importance of any level of computer science beyond vocational training for existing jobs. In my opinion, anything that reaches even slightly beyond this myopic view of education is a plus. At the very least it will increase the probabilities of future college administrators who aren't giving themselves perpetual colonoscopies.

I expect a new book title out of this: (1)

Tablizer (95088) | 1 year,11 days | (#45179377)

"Learn Ruby & Java While Being Shot Out of a Cannon for Complete Over-Caffeinated Morons."

Re:I expect a new book title out of this: (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | 1 year,11 days | (#45179525)

"Learn by Doing - The Microsoft Approach to POSIX implementation"

Re:I expect a new book title out of this: (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,10 days | (#45186659)

Hey... are you ... top? I've been looking for you... Can we talk? There's no contact on your home page...

Re:I expect a new book title out of this: (1)

Tablizer (95088) | 1 year,9 days | (#45189525)

Can it be on the c2 dot com wiki as technical discussion, or is it personal?

They're lucky (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45179383)

I got an hour to test our new helpdesk software. Needless to say, it sucks... and we're stuck with it. Yay management.

Re:They're lucky (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45179421)

Probably designed by people who've never talked to someone who will actually use the software.

It amazes me how often software gets rolled out in a corporate/government setting where no one that will use the software was a part of the design phase.

Re:They're lucky (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45179589)

Nope. Front-line support wasn't involved in the decision to use said product. The only reason they bought it was because some other company nearby also uses it, but theirs was modified to suit their operation before it was rolled out. Our current product is supposed to go EOL next week, so in a panic, they bought the software completely unmodified, and untested. Now front-line is stuck cleaning up the mess.

1 week is more than enough (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45179471)

Assuming the material is actually available, one week is more than enough for preparation. Most teachers do not have time for the kind of preparation you probably think they ought to do. I worked as a teacher for 5 years. Generally speaking, If I had a 1 hour class, I spent 1-3 hours on preparation. This was a fair bit more than most other teachers at the school who had more responsibilities than I did. Usually I tried to have my lessons prepared a week in advance, but more often than not, they were prepared 1-2 days in advance. No matter how much lead time you give the teachers, I guarantee that virtually nobody will look at it until a few days before. There just isn't enough time to do so.

BTW, if you think this is ridiculous, you could probably vote to raise your taxes, have more money sent to the schools and insist that it is spent on hiring more teachers rather than on toys like iPads for every student. There is barely a subject in school that wouldn't benefit from ripping out all the technology in a classroom and replacing it with a blackboard and another teacher.

Re:1 week is more than enough (1)

LandDolphin (1202876) | 1 year,11 days | (#45179547)

Just came to post this.

Planning to teach a 1 hour lesson shouldn't take more than a few hours. A week is cutting it close, but there is still ample time to prep for the lesson.

Re:1 week is more than enough (1)

dkf (304284) | 1 year,10 days | (#45179945)

Planning to teach a 1 hour lesson shouldn't take more than a few hours. A week is cutting it close, but there is still ample time to prep for the lesson.

Assuming that all the teaching material (books, tests, electronic materials, etc.) is already there. It's the preparation of that which takes a long time, and which is why teaching at universities takes so much more time outside of actually giving the class; there's just much less opportunity to share materials, especially for anything vaguely close to cutting edge. That's why nearly everything in a normal school is not cutting edge; realistic time pressures simply don't allow it.

Re:1 week is more than enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,10 days | (#45180403)

That's why nearly everything in a normal school is not cutting edge; realistic time pressures simply don't allow it.

That's a reason, but not the main one. The main one is that all of the history is needed to understand things that are cutting edge. If you don't understand algebra, you won't understand geometry (as it is taught these days), or calculus, or differential equations, or how to program, or how to solve differential equations on a computer, thus you won't be able to understand computer simulations... which as a field are over half a century old now. You can come up with similar examples for other fields. We'll leave that as an exercise for the reader.

Re:1 week is more than enough (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | 1 year,10 days | (#45181281)

teachers do teach more than one lesson a week though.

Re:1 week is more than enough (1)

LandDolphin (1202876) | 1 year,10 days | (#45184375)

Yeah, but they've known about the other lessons all year long!

Re:1 week is more than enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,10 days | (#45180451)

Another fucking liar. We are supposed to believe you worked and toiled 16-24 hours/day. 1-3 hours preparation/week/class I would believe. I worked at a school too. The only people that worked even that much are new teachers. Once the lesson plan is written for the year they are rarely changed for the rest of their career, minus subtle changes. FACT.

The fact is if you are working that much you are one of those people that had, "fails to complete work on time" on their report card. If you can't prepare and grade basic papers in a timely manner, yes Virginia, K-12 work is basic, the world is a better place without you tinkering with someone's education.

The only thing that will turn education around is to only allow qualified people to enter the program. What we have now is every person who failed at another major taking up education as a major because it's easier.

did the Canandians (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45179551)

do this system too?

uh right..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45179667)

And how many will need to learn to read or do basic math before this class will make any difference???

How much of the content will actually be advertisements for the companies sponsoring it ?????

Re:uh right..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,10 days | (#45179809)

Do you remember the early 90s when the Internet was first commercialised? Governments around the world promoted the Internet as the next big thing, which usually involved them spending billions to fill schools full of PCs. Said computers went out of date pretty quickly so schools were locked into upgrade cycles every year or so. Meanwhile MS pushed for Office to be taught in computer lessons as it was needed for 'future job opportunities'.

UK TV at the time started showing programmes such as 'The Net' on BBC 2 which pushed computer stories to the masses and so we had an education campaign much like the 1980s computer literacy projects.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Net_%28BBC%29

Result: Well everyone can sort of use the Internet (in much the same way as everyone can use a washing machine), and they know who Apple or MS or Facebook are & utilise their products.

The big companies made many billions.

The overall computer knowledge of the population changed... not so much.

Does make me chuckle when you hear the corps talk about free markets and they forget how much taxpayer's cash was used to promote & indirectly prop up their businesses. Now in 2013 the same is happening again.

Don't upset the Gov't Fan Bois! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,10 days | (#45179985)

The summary accompanying this story is flamebait for all the "BIG GOVERNMENT" Fan Bois out there that believe the Federal Government is all knowing and all benevolent and should treat us as if we are their children to be protected and coddled. Everything the government is correct and for the good of all the people. In fact more things should be taken under the leadership of the federal government because we don't know what we are doing and will only hurt ourselves in anything we try to do. The government knows how to wisely spend money and will wisely and fairly distribute wealth to all it's children. They will educate us into, care for us, employ us, shelter us, bathe us and allow us recreation. The government will crush the evil rich and redistribute the money to all of us so that we all become equally rich. Amen.

Re:Don't upset the Gov't Fan Bois! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,10 days | (#45180085)

Erm. I know it's hard to tell the difference sometimes with all the cryptolibertarians and gun nuts about but this is Slashdot. The Tea Party rally is next door. By the way I love your mullet. So retro.

liberal bias (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | 1 year,10 days | (#45180047)

We need to let the educators of Texas and South Carolina vet these lessons to make sure there's no pro-gay, pro-Darwin or pro-Marxist agenda.

I mean, what are we worried about here, that these lessons are going to make tech education in the US for K-12 worse?

Re:liberal bias (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | 1 year,10 days | (#45181291)

Shush dont mention Alan Turing

"Self serving"? (1)

argStyopa (232550) | 1 year,10 days | (#45180107)

I think people tend to forget that the heart of compromise is to find something that BOTH sides benefit from in a transaction. It's not just the 800lb gorilla compelling someone.

The schools/government want to promote computer education.
Yes, the industry wants some nebulous increase in worker-drones some vague time in the future, but are being asked to invest resources from some very short-term balance sheets so yeah, I can see them wanting a tit-for-tat benefit in legislation today.*

*and if the government is stupid enough to agree to a deal in which they don't get much, and the industry gets more, it just shows you who's got the better negotiators.

Gradstating (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,10 days | (#45180135)

Where were these people back then when I was in high school. My pubil high schools had A.P. programs that came under under fire from some cikkeges because it was cutting into thier profits. We were basicly done with freshman year in college after graduating from high school. Thanks to a few top colleges and major engineering firms in NY that decided to fund the AP PROGRAMS, it was saved. To lazy to fix the capital keters in a smakk screen deal with it.

Sure (1)

koan (80826) | 1 year,10 days | (#45180323)

If all the kids can code you can get away with paying them minimum wage.

A lesson from healthcare.gov? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,10 days | (#45180519)

You mean the site that opened two months early, and has an extended deadline for 2014, giving almost six months for people to get off their ass?

Yeah, that's a good lesson to learn. Unless you're the idiot media who has to make a story to get people's attention for 90 seconds rather than substance.

...tech immigration reform... (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | 1 year,10 days | (#45181091)

I've never seen a more sinister move by those that would renounce their U.S. Citizenship for pieces of silver.
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