Computing vs ICT

There has been a longstanding debate about what Computing should encompass in Scottish Schools.  However I do like David Muir’s analogy of the stroppy teenager of a subject.  But I am not certain that Computing can ever be a science in that it does not have a body of fundamental knowledge independent of other sciences.  It is a very important technology, perhaps the most important at the present time and thus deserves academic study.

Computing derives from two different but related needs, number crunching or heavy duty arithmetic and data processing, exploring and processing non numeric data to turn it into information.  These overlap.  Is a spreadsheet data processing or arithmetic…a bit of both?

It can be tackled at various levels of complexity; there is the simple model of a computer as a blackbox with simplified explanation of how it works; there is the logic of computer systems and there are algorithms of the structure of a computer and there are the physical bits that carry out the processes; there is programming and problem solving and several other aspects of the computer which offer a wide range of possible courses to students of all abilities and inclinations.

What it should not be is the teaching of the four basic computer packages, word processing etc.  Every student should be exposed to the uses which they can make of a computer in the course of lifelong learning and work, but it does not need a specialist computer teacher for that kind of course.  There are a range of other specialists in a school such as Business Studies teachers and librarians who are better equipped to teacher theses subjects.

Recent Death

It was with great sadness that I read in yesterday’s Dundee Courier of the sudden death of Tony van der Kuyl. I have known Tony for twenty or more years. A huge man he was also a much larger than life character, never short of an opinion, usually controversial, on any subject.

The last time I met Tony was at a Scottish Learning Festival dinner. He and I were at a table right at the back and somewhat hidden from view. As usual he regaled us with stories through the first course and then moved to an adjacent table to talk to another friend. While there, he was served with a main course, but our waitress also left one for him at his original place. On his return he quickly demolished the second plateful, talking all the while. At the speeches, he was forced into silence which he endured for about five minutes. Then leaping to his feet, with hasty farewells, he crashed into the night through a convenient fire door. Exit the King!