Informatics in Schools

(a personal view)

Note on terminology

"Informatics" includes computer science, but is more general. Definition from the School of Informatics, University of Edinburgh (more about the term in this tech report):
Informatics is the science of information. It studies the representation, processing, and communication of information in natural and artificial systems. Since computers, individuals and organizations all process information, informatics has computational, cognitive and social aspects.

Where might children go in future with these skills?

Books could be written about this...

When we think about informatics in schools, programming, or coding, is what comes to mind. Coding can be fun and is a great vehicle for problem solving, but I think it's important not to over-emphasise the role of programming in future jobs. Even today, even in those jobs that are largely programming, many other skills (analysis, abstraction, negotiation, communication...) are equally vital.

In my opinion this will be even more the case in future. I talked a bit about this in my inaugural lecture. Right now it looks as though there are plenty of jobs that are essentially programming, but

  1. lots of work (including my research!) is going into removing straightforward programming from the solution of all kinds of problems, and it's succeeding. More and more, taking decisions about what software should do will be a small part of lots of other jobs, and the actual programming will be automated.
  2. straightforward programming jobs are very portable — they are already often done in developing countries, and that'll only increase.
This is not to say that learning programming is useless — far from it. I think the ability to program a bit will end up comparable to the ability to type, today — some people are better at it than others, a few people have it as a huge part of their job, many people's jobs assume that people will probably be competent at it. (But progress will continue to make it more and more optional, see e.g. voice typing.) The implications of this are that it's the higher-level skills that will be crucial. Computing is a solution technique: for it to be useful, people need to understand the problem, think about what would constitute a solution, pick between solutions, manage the development, introduction, maintenance, and ongoing evaluation and adaptation of the chosen solution.

Concretely, looking towards software development roles and many related solution-provision roles,

About how to avoid girls disengaging

(It's difficult to write briefly about this without over-simplifying and, myself, buying into stereotypes. Please imagine lots of caveats added.)


Mixture of things relating to careers and teaching things... home