The worse thing about the ICT curriculum, however, is its implicit assumption about our relationship to the technology. “Look,” it says seductively, “using a computer is like driving a car: you don’t need to know how the thing works – you just need to know how to drive it.”
Of course, this is, broadly speaking, true for cars, because few of us are going to go into the car-making (or even car-repairing) business. But computers are not like cars. They are machines driven by software, and software is pure “thought-stuff”, in other words, something that is accessible to anyone with the requisite curiosity, intelligence and talent. So while teenagers might not be able to make cars, they can certainly get into the software business, because the entry barrier is so low. All you need is imagination, talent, time and persistence. But it really helps if you’re schooled in an environment that encourages tinkering and experimentation, rather than one which just preaches utilitarian use of information appliances with “no user-serviceable parts”, as the saying goes.
What is happening is that the national curriculum's worthy aspirations to educate pupils about ICT are transmuted at the chalkface into teaching kids to use Microsoft software. Our children are mostly getting ICT training rather than ICT education.
And if you can't see the difference, try this simple thought-experiment: replace "ICT" with "sex" and see which you'd prefer in that context: education or training?
A nice article combining a bit of history, and introducing me to the concept of the Raspberry Pi. I had a conversation with my Father-in-law a while ago about tinkering, and the fact that his great-grandchildren just replace things if they break, and have no interest in attempting to mend things, because stuff is easily replaceable. A far cry from my Dad and other's of his generation who kept everything as spares, just in case