To many educators here and in the UK, consumable digital technology and social media are only distractions, pastimes, ways to escape the monolithic institution of education. But as schools build firewalls around their classrooms, are they depriving their students from learning how to graduate from user to creator?
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To fill in the gaps, Emma Mulqueeny created Rewired State and the ancillary Young Rewired State, a massive, intercity conference where computer scientists teach kids how to code. Writing for the BBC, she cites Douglas Rushkoff’s Program or Be Programmed, outlining the crisis and offering her solution.
Children will not learn how to live, work and cope in this digitally driven world without having a deep cultural understanding of how it works. And they will not have this deep cultural understanding by sitting in closed classrooms, measured by set targets, removed from digital society and banned from the open web.
We have provided them with a big annual event, where they flock together in centres around the UK and build something in a week, putting to use the skills they have taught themselves alone throughout the year.
They work together, creating the best possible digital tool they can think or, be it a website, a game, an app, a widget or the next big thing in social technology – even real life stuff.
Paradoxically, teaching computer science has often been a self-taught inquiry. Are computer science majors a redundancy in a world of open tutorials? Perhaps education should hold out less as a mechanical training ground and more an ethical incubator where we learn to both control and navigate.