Comp-sci teachers are religiously bad
Universities will admit off the record that they feel some despair at the calibre of people that apply. Children love technology, and in any playground there will be serious arguments about the merits of various tech. Like most parents, I use withdrawal of tech privileges as a serious threat to ensure good behaviour. So you are left with no alternative but to blame the largely worthless, uninspiring syllabus and the pathetically underqualified people who stand in the class, annoying the kids. I can’t bring myself to refer to them as “teachers”.
Without exception, teachers refer to computers as “tools”, and their ignorance of the inner workings of computers is staggering. Their teaching methods mirror the attitudes of a medieval priest talking to peasants.
As a kid I assisted at Mass, and we were warned on peril of our souls that there were things we should not do, and places we should not go. Today that is the tone of the letters I get from my kids' school about the rules to prevent my kids showing any initiative or curiosity about computers. Programming is almost wholly absent and if I saw an IT teacher crossing herself when hearing a nine-year-old talking about C# it would not shock me.
I suspect there is a filtering process going on here. The vast majority of kids look at the subject and quite rationally assume that it is both dull and useless. It therefore attracts a lot people who cannot write English well enough to do an arts subject and who are thus choosing between a degree in CS or accountancy or a qualification in leisure centre management. Of course some kids actually have a passion for the subject (or like me saw it as a route to make real money), and are not only ignored by schools, but where these days harassing a kid for appearing to be gay will be counted as bullying, geekiness is treated as something you should be ashamed of and hide as best you can.
If you’re not a CS grad, you might have spotted what looks like a logical contradiction when I talk of both unemployment and higher pay for CS grads. That’s because there is good demand for computer skills; even Java still has value for now. Even a smart graduate in archaeology is going to find it tough to work in his or her field of choice, so what does it say about you if you were trained in something that’s in demand, but are still unemployed?
Some CS grads do make astonishing money, the right hand side of the distribution sails past first-year pay of £100k, but that's for people who can do exotic programming.
The sheer ignorance of newbie CS grads still manages to astound me. If you’re one reading this, you’re actually above average. Recently I held a seminar, ripping newbie CS CVs to shreds, and showed the bog standard technique of taking the job spec and adjusting the cover letter to highlight how you fit.
As cynical as I am, I was astonished that not one person in the group knew the names of any of the top three online recruitment sites. Do your mates a favour, pass them the address of the Reg. Maybe then fewer of the next batch will be driving minicabs. ®
Dominic is a headhunter in the City.