Province presses shift on schools

Premier Christy Clark has a vision for B.C. youth, one that potentially involves a heck lot more screen time.

Premier Christy Clark has a vision for B.C. youth, one that potentially involves a heck lot more screen time.

The B.C. government recently unveiled its plans for a curriculum upgrade, to make computer coding mandatory in public schools.

The province will be spending $2 million to teach teachers how to teach coding, and another $2 million to purchase new computers for classrooms.

As to which teachers will be taught, we can imagine this scenario: “Bad news coach, you’re teaching sex ed again this year. Worse news, you’ve also got computer coding.”

By the end of Grade 9, every student in British Columbia is expected to have taken a module of basic coding under B.C.’s new curriculum.

Clark says it’s her goal to make coding mandatory for every child from kindergarten to Grade 12.

“Coding and our new curriculum are connecting students with the problem-solving and critical-thinking skills they need to thrive – no matter what path they choose,” says Clark.

Hopefully this means students will be exposed to theoretical exchanges commonplace to computer science as a whole, and not just focused on computer programming (the actual physical process of writing code).

Of course, this is Christy Clark we’re talking about, and if you think it’s all about education, you’re wrong. It’s about the diversifying the economy – rejigging public education to fill future need for skilled labour in the province’s volatile tech sector.

Yes, volatile.

Like any other industry, tech has seen its share of ups and downs. In the last six years alone, the Lower Mainland has lost some major industry players (Radical Entertainment, Pixar’s Vancouver branch, Rockstar Games and two EA studios).

This brings us back to the importance of diversification. Investing all of our public education hopes and needs in the tech sector would be akin to, say, investing all our economic hopes/needs in LNG.

How about a mandatory gardening course? It would get kids outside, working together, and provide skills that may be necessary if and when work dries up in tech and natural resources.


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