Ex-Student views on Computing

I got an interesting email from a former student of Dunbar Grammar who went on to study Computer Science. He had seen some of the press coverage about the future of computing and decided to let me know his thoughts. He’s kindly allowed me to reproduce the contents of his email here.

Hi Mark,

I saw your letter in The Herald last week and thought I would write a short note of encouragement/support.

I left Dunbar Grammar School in 2001 to study Computer Science at Edinburgh University. My formal Computing education up to that point consisted of studying at Standard Grade for about two weeks, before deciding it was far too dull and defecting to Technological Studies. (A friend of mine from the same year also went on to study CS at Edinburgh. He didn’t even bother trying Standard Grade.)

So I am very familiar with every point you made about the computing curriculum and how badly it represents computer science. I don’t know about the current curriculum but when I took the subject there was no programming and no mathematics in the subject. In maths I had to know how to derive the quadratic formula from first principles; in physics it was velocity, acceleration, current and voltage; and technological studies added the properties of materials, stresses and strain. But in computing? As ever, word processing, databases, and more databases. It was treated as an “easy pass” subject at the time, totally at odds with its higher-education cousin.

I’m glad that you and others are making noise about this. I flirted with the idea of teaching maths when I left university but didn’t even consider teaching computing. How much has the curriculum changed since my day?

If there’s anything you think that a recent graduate with an interest in promoting their chosen subject can do, please let me know! I was fairly keen on the computing aspect of things at school (I designed and administered the school’s first website back then, as well as running a Silver Surfers club in S6) and I’d be happy to get back into the advocacy role! 🙂

On a lighter note, I found your blog and noticed you posted about getting an Eee PC. I got one last week and they’re awesome…



Thanks D, the encouragement and support is much appreciated.

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