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Teaching creative computer science

Early this week, Computing at School (CAS) and Microsoft released two surveys which showed that: two-thirds of teachers are worried their students know more about computing than they do, and after one term of teaching the new computing curriculum, four-fifths wanted more training and development; and that more than half of their students believed they knew more than their teachers about programming and creating websites.

Simon Peyton Jones, chairman of CAS and TEDxExeter alumnus, has been involved in launching the QuickStart Computing programme. This was launched by the Department for Education this week, and is aimed at helping to train teachers in delivering the new computing curriculum. Simon’s TEDxExeter talk, badged as “Teaching creative computer science”, features in Section 2 of the CPD toolkit for secondary teachers.

 

TEDxExeter story: Nicola Evans, 2012 attendee

The fifth of our short series of stories from speakers and attendees at previous TEDxExeter events. Claire met Nicola at the Northcott as she was buying tickets for TEDxExeter 2015. It’s an inspiring start to the new year.

 

Completely unrelated to TED, my partner Sarah and I had been thinking for some time about making our wills more meaningful than splitting our estate into small portions and distributing amongst members of our family, who didn’t really need it. Whereas, as a whole, it was a not insignificant sum that could make a real difference.

There were a number of things floating around in minds, including:

  • We had recently visited Costa Rica and were quite taken with the ethos of the country: no military, for which they were nominated a Nobel Peace Prize – a lot of their taxes go into the education of their children. Whilst they are a relatively poor country economically, they consistently perform well in the Human Development Index and have twice ranked the best performing country in the New Economics Foundation’s Happy Planet Index. It is also on schedule to become the first carbon neutral country in 2021
  • We believe that the only thing that will radically change the world is education. Not just academic but an understanding and embracing diversity through knowledge
  • We believe that children are our future and, although we don’t have any of our own, we need to invest now to help them make things better for future generations – it really is our duty
  • We believe that women have a huge contribution to make but in many parts of the world are still considered second class citizens and victims of atrocious human rights violations.

… but it wasn’t until TED that all of our thought began to gel into a coherent plan and the starting point was at our first TEDxExeter in 2012, when we heard Mike Dickson talk on “What is enough?” We were genuinely inspired, so we hi-jacked him over a sandwich at lunch time and he subsequently invited us to meet him in London to discuss our plans further.

Sarah and I then gave each other space to consider what we wanted to do individually and when we came together to reveal our thoughts – guess what? They were exactly the same:

We wanted our money to be used to set up or support a school for the education of mainly female (but not exclusively) children in Costa Rica or a similar country (more research needed). We have subsequently set up a trust to do just that.

TEDxExeter gave us the freedom to think differently about things and empowered us to act on aspirations beyond those for ourselves.