14 January 2012

Oh the tyranny of the sub editor. Journalist writes article, sub editor fits headline to it. Soundbite, provocation, something to fit the space. All of these considerations means that, often, headlines distort the true meaning of the article or report.

Take the Guardian’s “ICT lessons in schools are ‘highly unsatisfactory’, says Royal Society“. Gloom mongering. We know of course that the overwhelming majority are not. Even Ofsted agree. Even if not as many are reported as excellent as might be. The article actually says:

“The current delivery of computing education in many UK schools is highly unsatisfactory,” the scientists, who include Nobel prize winner Paul Nurse, argue. “We appear to have succeeded in making many people comfortable with using the technology that we find around us, but this seems to have been at the expense of failing to provide a deeper understanding of the rigorous academic subject of computer science.”

It’s computer education lessons that are unsatisfactory, failing to provide deep understanding of computer science. Well that’s not surprising, the ICT curriculum wasn’t intended to do that alone. There are many excellent lessons in ICT, digital literacy, creative media that do not address the discipline of computer science. That is perfectly acceptable. It does not make them, per se, unsatisfactory.