The new computing curriculum is an opportunity to teach students "meta skills" such as problem solving, through play and gaming, according to industry experts at Bett 2014 this week.
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Bett is taking place from 22 to 25 January at the London Excel, attracting more than 35,000 attendees and 700 exhibitors to discuss IT in education.
During a panel session at the Bett Teachers Summit, Ian Livingstone, life president of games creator Eidos, said: “Learning is currently more about league tables than it is about learning. Learning should include the meta skills of problem solving and communication.
“These are powerful life skills that should be included in every subject.”
Katy Bloom, professional development leader at MyScience.co, said meta skills are easily taught through play. However, the notion of play in schools is considered a waste of time: “Primary is OK, but by the time you get to secondary school play is considered fluffy, pink and fuzzy. The opinion is that I have too much content to get through. It can be used in originality and task appropriateness.
“Play helps ensure children are creative, independent and resilient. That’s what I want for my kids and I wouldn’t want any less for others. Getting A* doesn’t come into it.”
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Livingstone agreed, saying gaming and play are important aspects of learning: “Games give you life skills. Children learn to collaborate, take risks and be creative.”
He said it is about bringing the workplace closer to the school environment through play: “Give kids coding so they can create and understand the world they find themselves in, and on top of that they should teach children to build apps. Otherwise it’s like teaching kids to read but not write.
“I don’t want to know that someone has been taught to memorise something; I want to know they have created something. Questions like who invented the World Wide Web on exams – as an employer I don’t care if you know that. That’s for a quiz night. Show me you can code and I’ll give you a job.”
He suggested society needs a different way to assess children: “Those with A* [grades] might not necessarily make good employees.”
Rene Lydikisen, managing director of Lego Education, echoed the importance of playfulness in learning.
“Play lets children know that failure is an option. The belief is you have to already be in a job to be creative. With play it is about trying to solve the problem, which in turn makes a creative solution,” he said.
William Ackerman, founder of MyKindaCrowd, highlighted that there has been a reduction in government support and funding in work experience in careers, but that this should be viewed as a time of opportunity: “There is less support through the traditional route, but this is an opportunity, not a crisis for communities and companies to play a role. It is an opportunity to link the skills the employer wants to bridge that gap.”