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Make IT Better: Every pupil should have the chance to code, says Raspberry Pi creator

07 Dec 2012

raspberry-pi-foundation-executive-director-eben-uptonRaspberry Pi founder Eben Upton has called for every child in the UK to be given the opportunity to learn how to code, as part of their school ICT education.

"Everyone should be given that opportunity," says Upton, in an interview with V3.

"We are in a situation at the moment where there are large numbers of kids out there who find out late they have a natural aptitude for coding, which they were never given the opportunity to discover at school."

Such calls from Upton are hardly surprising considering he helped found the Raspberry Pi Foundation, which has built a £22 single-board computer, intended to introduce programming to the next generation of UK computer scientists.

Upton welcomes the government's decision this year to reform the school ICT curriculum and recommends the revised version should contain less emphasis on children's use of applications.

"I don't think there is much value in teaching kids how to use applications, people tend to learn this stuff themselves anyway," says Upton.

"That is how you make computing boring; by teaching kids how to use PowerPoint for a year. By the time they get to use the specific app in the job market, they will have forgotten it or the app will have changed. These are not the skills to be teaching kids. We need to teach them things that make them valuable in the market place."

Upton says the ICT curriculum needs to be given more a creative focus.
"Learning graphics is important, and how to do Hollywood types of special effects," says Upton.

"Although, if I was forced to study graphic design, it would have killed my interest in computing as I'm not that artistic. But I know others who would love this opportunity. So it comes down to the fact that people should have the ability to discover what their skills are. At the end of the day computers are just tools."

Upton also argues the government needs to ensure ICT teachers have more access to training resources.

"ICT teachers often want to do new types of creative things but are often not trained in how to deliver this stuff. So they need adequate support and training."

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