Let specialists oversee tech literacyComputing and programming will be taught as mandatory subjects in elementary and middle schools from next year. President Park Geun-hye, during a cabinet meeting focused on creating a software-based society as a part of a long-term plan to build an innovative economy, demanded that software education be strengthened.
Literacy in computer programming has become as important as English in a global society as well as for industrial development. But the Education Ministry’s action plan raises questions over whether the government is fully aware of its importance and actually serious about expanding software education. According to the ministry’s plan, the information and technology section taught in middle school will be separated as an independent textbook item. Computer coding and software will be taught as an extracurricular activity, like clubs and sports. This suggests that software education will be incorporated in elementary and middle school curriculums without affecting other subjects. The plan also does not appear to require any additional manpower or supplies.
The focus of software education should be on fostering critical thinking and imagination through the help of computation and computer language. The government believes extra hours taught by the same teachers with the same textbooks can adequately contribute to educational needs in technology and information. Students will barely learn anything new or be motivated to develop innovative imagination by experimenting with ideas and computer coding to attempt inventing programs on their own.
The Education Ministry said the changes will be announced in next month’s revised education curriculum. So far, it doesn’t seem to have the will or capacity to offer anything new except slightly increasing teaching hours. Software education should not be left entirely up to the Ministry of Education. Computer and programming should be taught separately, by specialists, to produce any beneficial effect on education.
JoongAng Ilbo, July 26, Page 30