Back to school for the Telegraph subs

Replacing blackboards with interactive whiteboards was a waste of money which did not help pupils’ learning, the Education Secretary has said.

Damian Hinds is today urging headteachers to embrace modern technology as a classroom aide.

Pretty sure that should be aid.

31 comments on “Back to school for the Telegraph subs

  1. It’s not the only one.

    He told how he has seen state-of-the-art technology allowing pupils to explore Amazonian rainforests, steer ships and programme robots in some schools.

    Program.

    And none of that sounds very state-of-the-art to me…

  2. Of course, whiteboards replaced blackboards because ministers urged headteachers to embrace modern technology.

    The State knows best. All the time. Oh yus.

  3. OT but I see that the latest research shows that there isn’t really a link between domestic violence and big football or other sporting occasions.

    Which confirms earlier debunking of the old story about domestic violence peaking in the US during Superbowl.

    Unsurprisingly, the BBC which was all over the earlier story hadn’t reported the later one.

    Cue accusations that if you don’t think there’s a link between England losing to Croatia and domestic violence then you support domestic violence or are probably a wife beater anyway.

  4. Stuart: the British English convention is ‘programme’ for an order of events and ‘program’ for software. See also ‘disc’ for circular thingy and ‘disk’ for hard drive.

  5. “Niv, Programme is spelt correctly in The Queen’s English…”

    It is, but not in this context.

  6. “Mr Hinds writes today that schools must decide which products suit them best, as he warned teachers not to get duped by novelty items which offer little value to learning. “

    Unlike politicians, who….

    Oh.

  7. @NiV
    Er, what you are saying is that we musn’t use Queen’s English …
    As a teenager I wrote computer programmes (Actually I only wrote one, but I carried out maintenance and trouble-shooting on several) while the Americans wrote “programs”

  8. This as tedious as arguing about the correct way to write colour/color or how to pronounce Aluminium.

  9. I’ve worked for 30 years in IT in the UK, USA and Australia. It’s ‘Program’. Anybody referring to software as a ‘programme’ would be laughed at.

    (Arguably, the septics have the correct spelling – ‘program’ was very much the British English spelling right up to the 19th century, when we suddenly started to prefer the poncy French way of spelling it. See also : Fall/Autumn).

  10. Jason; Septics? You spent all that time writing programmes and did not learn to turn on your spellchecker?

  11. I’ll settle for teaching them the three Rs using pencil and paper and then how not to become knife yielding thighs.

  12. BiND: teaching them how to turn off autocorrect also helps intelligibility. (Confession: it still makes an ass of me because I can no longer find the option on my new tablet.)

  13. @ Jason Law
    Sonny, you started 20 years after I quit.
    You probably classify me as “history” – that doesn’t mean that I didn’t exist, just that you weren’t able to read when I wrote programmes.

  14. John77 – it marks you out as someone from a distinct era. When the word first got commonly used in English, sometime in the 17thc. it was spelled “program” as in words of similar origin such as anagram and diagram. At the start of the 19thc. the French spelling “programme” was adopted although writers such as Scott and Carlyle continued to use the original spelling. Nowadays, although the French spelling is currently used in British English for most purposes, for the specific purpose of a piece of computer code we have adopted the worldwide standard, which is the original and arguably more correct spelling of “program” – the original Greek ought to have been transcribed as programma.

    Incidentally, do you write “gramme” rather than “gram”?

  15. “You probably classify me as “history” – that doesn’t mean that I didn’t exist”

    john, do you have a brother called ‘Fortran’? I thought the surname sounded familiar!

  16. @ NiV
    I despised Fortran: I could read and write it but only under orders.
    No, two sisters: one of whom had the nous to hide the fact that she was significantly more intelligent than I after observing the anti-english racial prejudice suffered by our older sister; she spent much of her schooldays hiding the fact (ref: Tarquinius Superbus: poppies).

  17. @ Diogenes
    I shall accept without question your comment about 17th-18th century use of the word program/programme. However there were no computer programmes at that time. If forced I should write “gramme” but I prefer to write “ounce”, which is a more useful unit of measurement. When my mother was staying in France with the family of her (subsequently life-long) friend who was studying Engish, she found that the market stalls sold fruit and vegetables by the livre not the kilogram.
    I had not realised that anything more was needed to mark me out as someone from a different era. My generation were beneficiaries of those who had fought in the Wars and we enjoyed a rising (except for 1975-9) standard of living as private sector companies ploughed back umpteen years of profits into growing their business by using machines.
    So we have a more positive attitude to life than the Millennials who moan about being only thrice as well-off as we were.

  18. the British English convention is ‘programme’ for an order of events and ‘program’ for software. See also ‘disc’ for circular thingy and ‘disk’ for hard drive.

    Software is an order of events, and the innards of a hard drive are circular thingies.

  19. French markets will still sell you ‘une livre de tomates’. You’ll get 500g. Similarly, the Germans will happily sell you ein pfund.

  20. @ Chris Miller
    In my mother’s youth it was actually une livre,not half a kilo, because more housewives wanted une livre or trois livres than half a kilo or 1.5 kilos. This was more than five generations after the revolutionaries had decreed a new system of weights and measures based on a miscalculation.
    Some people think that they are so clever that they can ignore anything learned in the past million years

  21. “I despised Fortran: I could read and write it but only under orders.”

    🙂 I’ve met a lot who hated it, and a few who would code in nothing else. Arguments about programming languages approach religious wars in their intensity!

    As you’d probably expect by now, my view is that the more languages you can program in, the better. The limitations of each language create particular priorities, obsessions, and habits of thought that can blind coders to alternatives, without even being aware of it. (Like, I’ve lost count of the number of times someone has earnestly explained to me that the most important feature of language design for code safety is strong typing…)

    Diversity is strength.

    “I shall accept without question your comment about 17th-18th century use of the word program/programme. However there were no computer programmes at that time.”

    Some people argue the first instance of software for a general purpose programmable computer was Ada Lovelace’s ‘Note G’ published in 1842 (for calculating Bernoulli numbers), but it could also be argued that Basile Bouchon’s paper tape control of 1725 for defining fabric patterns to be produced on a loom was also a form of ‘program’; defining an ordering of events.

    As is often the case, definitions can be a bit fuzzy. What constitutes a ‘program’? (Or ‘programme’, if you prefer. It’s not something I have strong feelings on.)

    “one of whom had the nous to hide the fact that she was significantly more intelligent than I […] she spent much of her schooldays hiding the fact”

    My sympathies. I know what that’s like.

    “This was more than five generations after the revolutionaries had decreed a new system of weights and measures based on a miscalculation.”

    It also completely spoiled one of my favourite quiz questions: “Which is heavier, a pound of gold or a pound of feathers?” If you ask in a quick-fire quiz, so they don’t have time to stop and think about it, you can often surprise people with the unexpected answer.

  22. I used to work for a company that made interactive whiteboards and associated gizmos + software that can best be explained as a lot like Powerpoint. In theory they could bring some real benefits… in practice we found teachers were (amusingly) reluctant to learn to use new technology.

  23. “Strong typing is for people with weak minds.”

    🙂 http://dilbert.com/strip/2001-01-22

    I think of strong typing as like putting ultra-restrictive safety guards on a power tool. Used sensibly for a standard job of precisely the sort it was designed for, it may be a bit more cumbersome but is usually not a problem. But as soon as any safety or security measure gets in the way of people doing their job, they bypass it, don’t tell you they’ve done so, and you’re suddenly off-piste without a safety net without even realising it.

    But my main source of irritation with it is that it’s only really an issue for certain badly designed languages, it only addresses one of the many problems those languages have, and their fans always seem so obsessively proud to have the feature while taking all the other issues for granted.

    I’ve spent many years coding in dynamically-typed, implicitly-converted languages, and have found type conflicts to very rarely be the root cause of bugs. I’ve never sat there and thought: “Gosh! I wish this language was strongly typed!”

    But of course, coding (like religion) is a deeply personal experience, and I’m not going to get all evangelist about opposing it. If they find it useful and it makes them happy…

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