Wow, hasn’t this been quite the contentious little subject recently? The Year of Code has been launched with a massive fanfare, backed by the UK government. An admirable initiative one might think, but I’ve yet to meet a techie who supports Year of Code. Here are some of the reasons why:
- Jen Barber – oops, sorry! – Lottie Dexter, head of Year of Code and politics graduate, has admitted that she can’t code and doesn’t seem to have a very good grasp of the subject matter she is meant to promote.
- The initiative’s chairman, Rohan Silva, is a philosophy, politics and economics graduate. Do you see a pattern forming yet?
- Rohan is also the Entrepreneur in Residence at Index Ventures, a company headed up by Saul Klein. Saul also happens to sit on the board of Year of Code and companies such as Kano Computing, Codeacademy and Songkick, all of which are involved with the initiative. Again, there is little evidence of technical knowledge from Saul.
- The scheme is receiving a lot of negative press from the likes of The Guardian and respected tech news website The Register. Clive Beale of the Raspberry Pi Foundation recently tweeted his views on the matter:
The word “coding” has been hijacked and abused by politicians and media who don’t understand stuff. I give you instead: the #YearOfComputing
— Clive Beale (@clivebeale) February 9, 2014
Now, I’m definitely all for encouraging computer science subjects being introduced to children from an early age but there are already some fantastic initiatives already on the go, Coding at School being a prime example. A quick look around the site and you’ll soon find that the people running the scheme, Carl Turland and Richard Russell, actually know a thing or two. Fancy that!
It’s frustrating that what is essentially a good idea is derailed by the likes of government bods who probably struggle to change the font in Word thinking that hiring lobbyists, marketeers and soulless PR bods to run such schemes is a great idea. They can certainly make schemes look shiny, but they simply can’t hide the tarnish once you scratch the surface a little.
The UK is a hotbed of ideas and has a fantastic reputation when it comes to technology, so it’s really maddening when well established initiatives such as Coding at School and the Raspberry Pi Foundation are overlooked in favour of slick but ultimately badly thought out schemes such as Year of Code. I’m also not convinced that I like the amount of corporate interference the scheme has from the likes of Index Ventures, although to be fair to Kano and Code Academy they are both very worthwhile schemes in their own right. It’s almost as if Year of Code wish to piggyback Coding at School’s success, which is completely daft. What they should be doing is joining forces, working together capitalise on each camp’s talents to introduce some of the most sought after workplace skills to schoolchildren and encouraging the next generation of engineers.