Last Friday, Australia signed off on the nation's Digital Technologies curriculum, the first effort to teach computational thinking from infants' school to late High School. But the signoff is hollow because the content of the curriculum is hidden and a further review of technology education has been announced.
The rubber stamp for Digital Technologies Curriculum was wielded by the nation's Education Council, a gathering of Education ministers from States, Territories and the Commonwealth.
The official endorsement of the Curriculum is a belated victory, for three reasons.
The first is that we don't know what's in the Curriculum and won't know until it is released in mid-October, the date set in the Education Council's Communiqué.
The second is that the Digital Technologies Curriculum was complete two years ago but was held up as part of a comprehensive review of the Australian Curriculum. That review's now been completed and, as minister for education and training Christopher Pyne explains, “will resolve the overcrowding in the primary curriculum”.
Thirdly, the Education Council also announced it's approved the “drafting of a new national Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) school education strategy” that “... will seek to build on the momentum of the significant number of STEM in education initiatives and programs currently underway or planned for at the national, state and local levels”. A draft of that strategy “will be presented to the Education Council for consideration by the end of 2015.” Which sounds great, other than for the fact that the idea of the strategy was floated in May. Four months' work has apparently gone into turning the review from an idea into a plan to create a draft.
To summarise, therefore:
- The Digital Technologies Curriculum has been signed off, more than two years after it was completed;
- We won't know what's in the Digital Technologies curriculum for about another three weeks, during which time we have no idea how much of it survived the process of reducing "overcrowding" in the national curriculum;
- A new review of STEM teaching, with unknown terms of reference, is revisiting how we teach technologies;
- There's no published timetable for the new STEM strategy's completion, consideration or implementation.
And on top of the uncertainty we face for the next three weeks, and possibly beyond as the STEM strategy is developed, there's no announcement of extra money to ensure teachers are trained to teach the Digital Technologies curriculum or that schools have the kit necessary to bring it alive.
So keep the champagne in the bottle, dear readers. Signing off the Digital Technologies Curriculum is an overdue milestone, but so much uncertainty remains that celebrations look premature. ®