Teaching computational thinking

Steve Easterbrooke recently posted a nice argument for teaching more than “computational thinking” [blog post | paper]. This is a contribution to a conference on ICT and transformational change. In the paper he makes an argument for teaching more systems thinking.

Massive thanks to Steve for sharing his work and ideas. The paper got me thinking.

I really like the idea of systems, the idea of feedback loops, small things becoming significant, large things diminishing, whole systems of complex interaction being awesomely wicked to understand, predict, intervene in or control. And we are often a part of the system we talk about (even though we might pretend to be objective).

[for some reason I never hit publish at the time – recently was a while ago now!]





How to sabotage training

There was a WWII Simple sabotage field manual, which was released in the 1940’s. It describes how workers and managers can subtly but effectively disrupt organisational performance as an act of . Much of the document concentrates on factory operations. Here are the sections that cover office work – many of which are alarmingly familiar!  [Hat Tip to Duncan Green @fptp for the link].

Many of us working in international education programs will recognise some of these behaviours – and it is instructive to see how many of these are rooted in sensible ideas that actually help us function. Ideas that we can (out of awareness?) start to sabotage our work with.

(a) Organizations and Conferences

  1. Insist on doing everything through “channels.” Never permit short-cuts to be taken in order to expedite decisions.
  2. Make “speeches,” Talk as frequently as possible and at great length., Illustrate your. “points” by long anecdotes and accounts of personal experiences. Never hesitate to make a few appropriate patriotic comments,
  3. When possible, refer all matters to committees, for “further study and consideration.” Attempt to make the committees as large as possible – never less than five.
  4. Bring up irrelevant issues as frequently as possible.
  5. Haggle over precise wordings of communications, minutes, resolutions.
  6. Refer back to matters decided upon at the last meeting and attempt to re-open the question of the advisability of that decision, Advocate caution.
  7. Be “unreasonable” and urge your fellow-conferees to be “reasonable” and avoid haste which might result in embarrassments or difficulties later on.
  8. Be worried about the propriety can any decision – raise the question of whether such action as is contemplated is within the jurisdiction of the group or ‘whether it might conflict with the policy of some higher echelon.

b) Managers and Supervisors

  1. Demand written orders.
  2. Misunderstand” orders. Ask endless questions or engage in long correspondence about such orders. Quibble over them when you can.
  3. Do everything possible to delay -the delivery of orders. Even though parts of an order may be ready beforehand, don’t deliver it until it is completely ready.
  4. Don’t order new working’ materials.. until your current stocks have been virtually exhausted, so that .the slightest delay in filling your order will mean a shutdown.
  5. Order high-quality materials which are hard to get. If you don’t get them argue about it. Warn that inferior materials will mean inferior work.
  6. In making work assignments, always , sign out the unimportant jobs first. See that the important jobs are assigned to inefficient workers of poor machines.
  7. Insist on perfect work in relatively unimportant products; send back for refinishing those which have the least fiaw. Approve other defective parts whose flaws are not visible to the naked eye.
  8. Make mistakes in routing so that parts and materials will be sent to the wrong place in the plant.
  9. When training new workers, give incomplete or misleading instructions.
  10. To lower morale and with it, production, be pleasant to inefficient workers; give them undeserved promotions. Discriminate against efficient workers; complain unjustly about their work.
  11. Hold conferences when there is more, critical work to be done.
  12. Multiply paper work in plausible ways. Start duplicate files.
  13. Multiply the procedures and clearances involved in issuing instructions, pay checks, and so on. See that three people have to approve everything where one would do.
  14. Apply all regulations to the last letter.