Tony Abbott Is Still Dodging Questions About Teaching Coding To Everyone

Yesterday, Prime Minister Tony Abbott made a very odd comment in Parliament, effectively suggesting that teaching coding to all kids was tantamount to child labour. Today, he avoided that analogy, but he still wasn't ready to commit to basic coding skills being taught to every student.

Picture: Getty Images

Asked again during question time whether the government would back mandatory coding education, a policy Labour favours, Abbott said this:

The Opposition has been playing catch-up politics on this . . . this matter was fully dealt with by the government in the competitiveness and innovation agenda that we brought down last year. Coding is now on the curriculum at every level and it's backed up by money which this government has committed.

Political sledging aside, there are three important points to be made here. Firstly, the fact that programming is "on the curriculum" is not the same as it being something everyone learns, which is what "mandatory" means. There's a curriculum for Russian, but not many students learn it.

Secondly, despite those comments, the proposed IT curriculum is very far from locked in. It's quite likely it won't be decided on until December this year, and that means we wouldn't see it in schools until 2017 at the earliest.

Thirdly, there's a massive elephant in the room that will affect any plan to increase teaching of coding in our schools: where will qualified teachers be found?


Comments

    I find it both amusing and very very sad that yesterday it was terrible idea sending kids off to work at 11 years old, and today it was already put in place last year (correctness aside). But that's typical Tony I guess.

    Code runs on computers. There's plenty of amazing online places that teach coding already. If none of those are to your liking, you could easily educate every kid in Australia (if not world) by merely employing a handful of suitable teacher to build the online resource you want. Then the only thing the *real* teacher need do, is hang out in the room to supervise (and if they themselves did the course prior, to help if needed).

    code.org

    My 7 and 5 year old are already using this resource for coding and they love it!

      My kids are using the programming on Khan Academy, and love it.
      https://www.khanacademy.org/computing/computer-programming

    The most important lessons are learned in the home. Learn yourself (if you don't know already) and teach your kids. Everyone gets smarter, you spend quality time with your mini-mes, and you can sponge off them when they come up with Crossyflappybedazzledcraftday II: The Quest for Cash.

    "Coding for everyone" is a stupid concept. We need to accept the fact that people are different. Some will naturally all into coding and love it, others will consider it worse than a prison sentence.
    Just because I happen to like something is no reason to force it onto everyone else (and in fact I AM one of those who happily learned to code).

      Then by the same token:
      "Maths for everyone" is a stupid concept. We need to accept the fact that people are different. Some will naturally all into coding and love it, others will consider it worse than a prison sentence.

      "English for everyone" is a stupid concept. We need to accept the fact that people are different. Some will naturally all into coding and love it, others will consider it worse than a prison sentence.

      In other words, no.

      Understanding how computers work is going to be an increasingly important skill for the future, and I would say it is very important for people to understand basic concepts that will be taught at this sort of level.

      Last edited 28/05/15 6:25 pm

        No. Using computers will be important. But not coding them. English is always necessary.

      I wonder if Mr Abbott thought coding was something spies do?

      "Coding for everyone" is a stupid concept.

      I thought English, History, Geography and Maths were prison sentences. Are they a stupid concept too?

      @bandds I appreciate where you are coming from. I thought the same thing. I am a mathematician and used to think I was one of the special few people that could understand this mysterious subject. After having taught all levels of mathematics for a while now I think this is patently untrue. The reason people hate it is not because of some built in predisposition but 99% of the time because of how the subject is taught and the relevance that it has to them. I have seen time and time again, people who once hated maths and thought they were terrible at it, pick it up, love it and even excel. Coding (and maths!) will be part of a 21st century concept of literacy. I constantly have friends who completed humanities degrees come to me and ask me to explain some statistical concept or other, many of those people are now learning things like R because their jobs require it more and more.

      "Maths for everyone" is a stupid concept. We need to accept the fact that people are different. Some will naturally all into maths and love it, others will consider it worse than a prison sentence.
      Just because I happen to like something is no reason to force it onto everyone else (and in fact I AM one of those who happily learned to use maths).

      "English for everyone" is a stupid concept. We need to accept the fact that people are different. Some will naturally all into English and love it, others will consider it worse than a prison sentence.
      Just because I happen to like something is no reason to force it onto everyone else (and in fact I AM one of those who happily learned to speak English).

    Yeah, completely missed the point here.

    It's not like they'll teach anything to anyone at a level they can't digest. If someone is destined to suck at coding, they'll find out. I did geography until year 10 and hated it. So what? Didn't school suck most of the time anyway? Prison. Agreed.

    I would've loved this back then. This from the perspective of a never sure what to do kid, now an adult in IT.

    I think it depends on the level of coding. Pseudocode and computer logic the type found in subjects such as Discrete Mathematics should be taught, however teaching a specific language is not sustainable due to the nature of programming languages. Certain habits that a you will pick up from one language may not necessarily carry over to another one, and the programming language you learn today may not be relevant in years to come.

    Unless a school can better the typical wage of a skilled programmer in the industry, there will be a constant struggle to find teachers that will do anything more than read from a textbook and teach the bare of the curriculum.

      The basics (ha) don't change. If Then Else. Heck, the most relevant programming you'll ever teach someone is VBA.

      And it might surprise you, there are IT teachers in schools already, who probably have most of this shit down.

    Teaching coding isn't about computers, it's about teaching how to think in a computational, logic way to solve any problem by compartmentalizations. Many, many schools have voluntarily introduced it into the curriculum as my boys school has with scopeiteducation.com.au.

    *nervous nodding intensifies*

    https://youtu.be/rJ9y1c73-IM?t=23

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