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Re: [Fwd: [Fsfe-uk] Hello]

From: Alex Hudson
Subject: Re: [Fwd: [Fsfe-uk] Hello]
Date: 24 Apr 2002 18:31:59 +0100

On Wed, 2002-04-24 at 16:54, Richard Smedley wrote:
> Is it really hopeless to argue that schools should
> be there to teach (to educate) - not to train.

It depends what kind of school you're talking about, really. I consider
myself sufficiently modern to comment on the current education system (I
did modular A-Levels, for example, and experienced a number of key stage
tests), and in my experience I(C)T is not an academic subject; it's a
vocational one.

The distinction between computing and IT is similar to the one between
maths and accounting. If you're taught maths, you're given a pen and
paper. If you're taught accounting, you're given a calculator. One
doesn't require (and, often, isn't given) a computer to learn about
computing, similarly a vocational course in ICT doesn't teach the
academic side. Most people simply aren't interested. The majority of
people taking ICT training are doing it because computers are a tool
that they need to use, not because they want to understand how they
work. Look at the number of skilled metalworkers who know how to program
a CNC lathe - not many. Yet, they would be trained on a CNC lathe and
know how to operate it.

Whether or not this is the right way to do things is debatable. Having
seen people use wordprocessors professionally (i.e., having been trained
to use Word), if everyone had picked up how to use it themselves rather
than being taught, I could see that the document system would be an
unmanageable mess. Training on a wordprocessor, for example, isn't just
about how you make things look the way you want, but a lesson in best
practice and process management. Everything is done in a standard
fashion, and that actually helps immeasurably. If that wasn't the case,
you'd have chaos. Tracking changes, for example - some people would use
the in-built diff function, some people would visually mark-up changes
in the same manner you would do a paper copy, others still would use
margin/footnotes. I consider myself a pretty adept user of computers;
yet my wordprocessor skills compared to a trained professional (e.g.,
one of our secretaries) don't come close to compare. But then, if they
ever change software, they're stuffed.



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