How did you learn about Computers? Computer Science In Schools

We had an interesting conversation today in the office about teaching computers in school. We have a CSR program where we go and show kids what it is like to program computers and it got us talking about where we learned about computers in the first place. For me it was not at school, I learned about and fell in love with computers at home. My parents bought one of the old office computers after an upgrade. So I have a 386 with a 40MB hard drive and sheesh I don’t know how much RAM, I guess only MBs of RAM if the HDD was only 40MB. That I clearly remember because I constantly had to free space for newer games from the floppy discs of computer magazines. Ah memories.

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It was the 90’s I’m not old enough to have the cool stories of really antique hardware in my house, but this is how I learned about computers. So why am I telling you this, well I am wondering about the effectiveness, or lack, of teaching kids in school about STEM or Comp Sci. I would probably have still steered away from the Software Dev life early on as I didn’t appreciate just how pervasive writing code would become. I wanted to use Tech not write the code, but I do remember being concerned about the difficulty too, perhaps if I’d seen behind the curtain sooner I’d be further along now. It is one of those I’ll never know kind of things. I would likely not have my infrastructure background if I’d gone down that path and I could just be a Dev who didn’t have to consciously change into a Dev and would not appreciate it the same way. Who knows right…

Enough about me, what about the next generation, how much can schools really teach the kids? I certainly don’t know enough about the topic but do want to know more. I’ve two small kids now and I will be introducing (I already have) them to Comp Sci at home and not just as a consumer, sure they talk to Google already to turn on the TV but I want them working behind the curtain too. I figure, I’ve to show them what they can do with it and they’ll develop a want to do it themselves to their own ends. I’m not expecting the Irish school system to teach them programming, it would be a nice class for them to take, but only so they can get an easy A. I don’t believe software programming is for everyone and I’m quite unsure about the governments’ desire to push people not that interesting into computer jobs. Why if they are not interested?

On the flip side though the kids might never get to know how close they are to a fantastic career if they are never exposed to it. I guess I was lucky because my mother worked in an office and so I got an office computer, I don’t know if they even do that these days with old hardware. This summer one of the interns outright asked for one old, to be replaced laptops and that was nothing to write home about, but he said that students in his course have worse and he had nothing.

I know I’m only thinking out loud but I think I’ve come around to the fact that I was privileged to have been exposed to computers as such 10 or 11, a prime age to latch onto something (which played games). I did all my own tech support and it certainly set me on my current path. Maybe if the state provides more computer exposure in school then other children who would not otherwise would be stuck with a console for games. Still in the back of my mind, I sincerely question the ability of the school system to instil the love of computers that I’d recommend if perusing a career with computers. Well either way I’ll get involved with the STEM program this year at work and see for myself.

Written on November 14, 2018
[ MSc  ]