Computer programming in schools… Can we avoid coding ourselves into a corner?

The push for Swedish schools to teach students to code computers is now in full swing. This year, the Swedish government announced key changes to its requirements for the teaching of ‘digital competence’ in schools. This shift includes provision for programming to be introduced at all grade levels, becoming “a distinct feature of several different subjects in primary schools, especially in technology and mathematics”.

Sweden is by no means alone in these ambitions. Indeed, countries around the world are rushing to introduce computer programming, coding and software development into the curriculum. Increasing numbers of teachers are being trained to teach computer science in primary and secondary classrooms. Well-funded organizations such as Code.Org and Code the Future are offering outside-school tuition and resources. There has been a surge of interest in low cost mini-computers such as the Micro:Bit and Raspberry Pi, alongside programming languages such as Scratch and Python. Coding has quickly become part of the global educational agenda.

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Algorithmic Accountability

Side A: A Speculative Vignette

It’s early Monday morning and Andrea is still feeling unpleasantly chilled from the commute to work. The October wind had been tearing at the cable car as they traversed the river. At the busy changeover to the trams, she was caught off guard by a sudden gust of wind and rain which showered her horizontally from top to toe. Her woollen coat is now damp and she can sense the ripe smell of sheep as she takes a seat in the large Hospital lecture hall.

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