Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Editorial - It's Too Late for Me, but Not for Your Students: Opinion

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Editorial - It's Too Late for Me, but Not for Your Students: Opinion

Article excerpt

A few weeks ago I had a meeting with a pair of coders, members of the brilliant team who build our brilliant website. They manipulated some code before my very eyes.

To say I had no idea what was going on would be an understatement. But what I witnessed did get me thinking: I had never before considered the idea that coders code the internet using the internet. Indeed, the code they use to code has been coded by coders. Bear with me.

Rarely has my ignorance of how the internet works been clearer to me. At this point it is barely worth pointing out that I am not a digital native - I missed out by a few years. I do use the internet, though, all the time. It is everywhere in my life, professional and personal. I even - very occasionally - manage to make it do the things I want it to.

But I don't understand it. I have no idea how an email can leave my computer and instantaneously arrive on the other side of the world. I don't know where "the cloud" is. In truth, I don't even have a clue how the flickering screen in front of me works.

This is important. Because as cogent as the popular arguments in favour of teaching coding in schools are (the digital economy is expanding, this area is where many future jobs will be, etc), an even more powerful case can be made, one that is about alienation.

As mad as it may seem, please indulge a brief flirtation with a Marxist analysis, just for a moment. The failed economic determinist argued that workers in the Industrial Revolution were enslaved to the economic system because they had become a cog in a wider machine that they could neither understand nor comprehend. …

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