Slowly, quietly but surely and with subversion in its heart, programming is returning to classroom. The currently dysfunctional ICT curriculum, the Royal Society Review and the gathering forces of spontaneous groups such as Computing At School are taking us to a brighter ICT future. No longer satisfied with the dreary gym workouts of Microsoft Office and the slick, surface sheen of the Web, children and teachers are taking a peek underneath the hood of the machine. How does this thing work?
What can we make it do? Constructivism by a new, postmodern name.
Building apps, writing Scratch programmes, building Arduino inventions, even in the dusty apocalyptic corridors of the mathematics department, Logo is iterating itself back to life.
In a new world of educational conservatism, perhaps ICT will reinvent itself as a steampunk phenomena, education as knowledge manifesting itself in Victorian values brought to life by a new age of steampunk electronics. The delight of teaching a computing device to perform elegantly simple tasks. Drawing a hexagon, turning a light on and off, making simple electronic sounds. Instead of creating vast,
shiny, modernist artefacts in the classroom at the gesture of a finger, maybe we should be returning to the how and the why instead of the what, when and who of computing.
Children have a gonzo approach to computers. Hacking is no longer a dirty word and writing Apps can be delicious and nutritious. It is time we stopped being so pathetically impressed by the technology and started questioning, deconstructing the robot and seeking out the ghost in the machine.