Sunday, 9 February 2014

Early learning of important skills

It is gradually being recognised that being brought up in a bilingual household is an advantage when it comes to the later learning of languages and that those well-meaning parents, even native Welsh-speakers, who stopped their children from speaking Welsh as well as English were 180 degrees wrong. It also seems to help their later secondary studies if primary school children are introduced to other languages. Llangatwg and Dwr-y-Felin comprehensives are reaching out to juniors in their catchment area with introductory French lessons, and I don't suppose they are the only ones in the county borough to do so.

Now the English education ministry is mandating computer programming as a primary school subject as from the next school year. I believe this is a good move, as the earlier that one picks up skills the more they stick. I don't know whether it is already on the Welsh curriculum, but I do remember from a school open day the fun children in Cadoxton school demonstrated in directing their "turtle" using the Logo programming language. Perhaps it was a local initiative - I regret that I did not ask - but I would like to think that those boys and girls had a head-start when it came to computer studies at the comp.

Many schools are already benefiting from the initiative of the Raspberry Pi, a barebones computer (made in Wales, I am glad to say). There is a buzz about this device similar to that of the Acorn/BBC computers in the 1980s, at a far lower entry price even allowing for inflation. Many of the first generation of software entrepreneurs acknowledge the BBC computer or the Sinclair ZX series as their entrĂ©e into the world of programming. Provided the subject is taught with enthusiasm, and that the slower pupils are not made to feel stupid (there is a knack to programming which some take to more quickly than others), then I predict benefits for Britain ten years down the line.

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