I need an upgrade

30th May 2014 at 01:00

"Task 1: children will design, write and debug programs that accomplish specific goals. Task 2: children will detect and correct errors in algorithms and programs."

I scanned the list with a sinking heart. Our ICT coordinator had just emailed an overview of the new computing curriculum and this was apparently what I should be teaching. Not Bill Gates or some Steve Jobs protg. Just me.

Admittedly, I had managed to log on to the school's new intranet, and locate and open the email. But the skills gap between email retrieval and guiding the under-11s through computer programming still looked like a technological bridge too far. And I'm not alone. Even factoring in our newly qualified teachers, who are all well versed in the ways of the touchscreen, my colleagues are about as equipped to teach coding as our school football team is to take on Real Madrid.

Computing lessons have always been something of a thorny issue among primary teachers, who range from the moderately skilled to the downright technophobic. Unlike secondaries we don't have a specialist teacher, just a techie who sits hunched over the broken laptops and hides in a cupboard if you look like you might ask him a question.

It also doesn't help that technology moves so fast that the iPhone 3 became the iPhone 5 in the time it took me to locate the paragraph formatting button on my updated version of Microsoft Word. In primary education, Moore's law, which states that computer processing speeds will double every two years, will always be tempered by Murphy's law, which states that any teacher lucky enough to undergo ICT training every two years will magically lose those skills when confronted with a faulty wi-fi connection and a rowdy class.

I'm not opposed to technology. When it's not coming between Mr Brighouse and the washing up, I'm a big fan. But as someone who grew up waiting 20 minutes every time I wanted to shoot at aliens on a Commodore 64, I'm not convinced I'll ever be equipped to teach a generation whose birth involved an iTunes playlist and a contractions app. The gap is just too large.

And even if I did manage to get up to scratch, the technology would conspire to ruin my lesson. The new interactive whiteboard-cum-HD- television-cum-Nasa-control-panel in my class is great. But as it was installed beneath a skylight, it is barely visible every time the sun comes out.

Technology continues to march on regardless of staff skill. In the end it will come down to survival of the fittest. If, in a few years' time, you can successfully negotiate digital entry to your class, followed by an online registration and a round of 3D HD interactive lessons, then feel free to continue in teaching. If not, you may just have to go back to shooting at aliens on a Commodore 64.

Jo Brighouse is a primary school teacher in the Midlands

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