Practical programming in computing education

Miles Berry, Paul Curzon, Quintin Cutts, Celia Hoyes, Simon Peyton Jones, Shahneila Saeed

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"This white paper argues for the fundamental importance of practical programming as a central element of our young people’s computing education. Our intended audience is senior leaders, heads of computing, andteachers, especially in secondary schools.In 2014 the new English computing curriculum re-envisioned computing as a foundational subject, rooted in abody of knowledge and ideas, rather than as a vocational one. A danger is that the pendulum swings too far:that we come to see computing as a mainly theoretical discipline, divorced from the practical activities thatanimate it, including programming. The truth is that practical programming is absolutely central to a goodeducation in computing, for three main reasons:• Programming is intrinsic to computing. Programming is both a means to an end and an end in itself.Could you imagine a good education in science without science labs, in music without performance, inEnglish without creative writing (only reading)? The whole purpose of computing is to build thingsthat change the way we live, work and play, so actually writing programs is key. See Section 1.• Programming skills in computing are exceptionally useful. Programming is extraordinarily useful inother domains, not just the software industry. Moreover, programming projects develop many of the“soft skills” that are so highly prized by employers: teamwork, planning, logical thinking,communication skills, and resilience. See Section 2.• Programming work is essential pedagogy. Designing, writing, predicting, and debugging programsbrings together the theoretical knowledge that students encounter in class, consolid"
Original languageEnglish
PublisherNational Centre for Computing Education
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 27 Apr 2022

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NameImpact, evaluation and research

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