Tory Boss of government coding education initiative can’t code

Year of Code: Lottie Dexter on Newsnight

The row over Tory cronies in taxpayer-backed positions look set to intensify after it emerges the boss of the government’s coding education initiative cannot code — or even give a decent explanation of what is involved. Figures behind the scheme include Michael Gove, who is at the centre of the furore over Conservative placemen in Whitehall and the ‘quangocracy’.

Conservative activist Lottie Dexter was ridiculed by IT experts and educationalists for her clueless performance on Newsnight — in which she claimed that teachers could be trained how to educate students in computer programming “in a day”:

And after an embarrassing pause while she struggled to explain what computer programming was, she told Paxman:

“It doesn’t mean anything to you, or indeed to me yet because I don’t know how to code”

What Lottie Dexter lacks in obvious qualifications for the role she certainly makes up for with impeccable Tory connections. She worked as communications manager for the think tank founded by Iain Duncan Smith and may be familiar to readers as the somewhat ubiquitous face of the Tory outrider ‘Million Jobs’ campaign – an astroturfing operation which purports to “represent” the young unemployed while advocating for tax cuts and the watering down of equality legislation.

Here is what game designers, startup founders and the director of educational development at the Raspberry Pi Foundation had to say about the shambles:

With an exquisite lack of self awareness, Dexter opined:

 “Knowing how to code is crucial for so many people for getting jobs in the new economy”

Unless, that is, you are the director of the government’s coding scheme.

100 Comments

  1. I have heard rubbish before, and never as much rubbish as this. Of course an understanding of ‘code’ is important – knowing what it does and how it works makes sense for a lot of business owners and for some jobs/vocations. Do we need teachers trying to teach aspects of coding when the basics are not being taught. I think not. Interesting choice of spokesperson.

  2. Steve Winnington says:

    Well if I had known that I would not have spent time getting an MSc in programming.., what rubbish

  3. Neil Lewis says:

    HTML is not code, creating graphics for a website is unlikely to be code, this campaign is demeaning both to programming and creative skills.

  4. Rob says:

    You can build a website in an hour and it will even have marquee.

    Actually I think the answer she came up with, in answer to “what is code?” was fine.

    Paxman pointing at his wall and saying “it’s nonsense and doesn’t make sense” is purely down to the typical aesthetic applied to such things to make them look properly cyberpunk. It’s a shame she couldn’t answer that one, what with not knowing anything & all. I want to see what she’s knocked up in a year’s time.

  5. VEEP says:

    Paxman went very light on her, we’re that a minister or shadow, he wouldve taken them apart on the whole ‘not being able to do what your are fronting’ thing.

    Jobs for the girls. Why not, im sure the money wasted wont be a patch on other initiatives.

  6. Tim says:

    It’s clear that Lottie Dexter is dangerously clueless and also casually denigrates an entire industry with arrogant ‘it can be learnt in a day’ hand-waving – just as there’s a lot more to fluency than learning the alphabet, there’s a lot more to programming than for (i=0;i<10;++i) printf("Great, now I can be the next Zuckerburg!");.

    Jeremy isn’t much better: of course it’s his job to question the relevance of computer programming but he did so in a way that just adds to ignorance and misunderstanding.
    She was right that it’s essential to understand how our technology based world works in order to contribute to it usefully, it’s just a shame that neither she nor many of her visible colleges in government seem to have much of a clue about it. Well, aside from GCHQ but that’s another rant entirely.

    Unless they get help from actual experts in industry, these schemes will just end up with cupboards full of expensive, unused iPads (here’s a hint for free, schools: don’t buy iPads). There are so many people who could have been in charge of this project. It’s probably just that the vast majority of intelligent, technologically clued up people are also unlikely to be support this government.

  7. Jimmy says:

    To be fair, if you’re looking for a recommendation for an IT expert Iain Dunning Kruger is bound to be your first call.

  8. Dougie says:

    I look forward to your next dramatic exposé. Will that be “Shock as MOD civil servant admits he can’t drive a tank” or “Outrage as Health Secretary reveals he can’t do brain surgery”?

  9. Economy: George Osborne, degree in Modern History.
    Education: Michael Gove, degree in English.
    Health: Jeremy Hunt. degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics.
    Defence: Philip Hammond, degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics.
    Energy: Edward Davey, degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics.
    Work & Pensions: Iain Duncan Smith, no qualifications (he lied about them)
    Is there any member of the cabinet that is actually qualified to do their jobs?!
    Have any of them ever worked in the sectors they’re in charge of?

  10. Craig says:

    100% agree with Tim.

    I guess the snot-nosed tory that appointed her thought her ineptitude would go unnoticed. They may as well cut their losses and sack her, since she’s clearly a net negative to whatever they’re trying to achieve. Reigning in those spying wankers at GCHQ would be a better way to improve the tech industry.

  11. George Osborne says:

    @Stefan Isendahl

    Of course not. What do you want, blood? Now piss off, I’m trying to get an executive handjob here.

  12. Dave says:

    @Dougie — it *would* be an expose *if* those people claimed on national TV that you could learn to do that job in an hour ( or learn to teach it in a day). That’s the outrage.

    (Also the silly notion that coding is important in the scheme of things. It’s not. Let’s not get it mixed up with computing.)

  13. Anonymous says:

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  14. C++ says:

    MARKUP is NOT code, you CANNOT learn to “code” in an hour, how is this woman even on TV speaking about something she does NOT understand anything about. PATHETIC. EMBARRASSING.

  15. Tim says:

    @Dougie:
    Actually, I think we would be living in far better run country if the people in charge of various institutions had some experience in how they work. On a smaller scale, managers who do not understand (and who believe such understanding in beneath them or that everybody else has an easy job) are the worst sort to work for.
    There’s no shortage of smart people with expert knowledge who would be ideal for such roles: perhaps the reason that such people are not appointed is because their colleagues do not wish to be shown up (or because they don’t really want to teach kids programming after all: they just think it sounds impressive).

  16. Oddly Enough, Jenn Pahlka, The Creator And CEO Of Code For America, From Which The Year Of Code Program Is A spin-off Also Can Not Code.

  17. Jason says:

    I could see her taking a year to understand the basis of recursion.

  18. Var Homes = 2
    Var Salary = 67000
    TotalIncome = 0

    Do While CurrentMP.Votes > NearestRival.Votes

    For Year = 0 To FullTermYears Step 1

    TotalIncome = Salary + TotalIncome
    Expenses = random(40000,60000)
    TotalIncome = Expenses + TotalIncome

    Output “Bollocks”

    End

    End

  19. Wonder if her being a young attractive and lets be fair likable woman hand anything to do with her been given a job she has zero qualifications for ? Nah never happen sorry for even suggesting it!

  20. Qualified Coder says:

    I agree – no, you *can’t* “learn to code” in an hour, just like you can’t “learn English” (or French, Dutch or any other language) in an hour.
    You can, however, learn the basics.

    Building a website in an hour is also possible – if you use the right tools; but there’s likely to be minimal if any real coding involved.

    The problem is in the choice of the work “code” – it’s just too woolly.

    Many of the examples in the video are simply markup, or very high-level code (JQuery was mentioned), where all the hard work has been taken away and done already by *real* coders. Yes, I know you could also say that about any old-style high-level language like ALGOL, Pascal, Fortran, Ada etc. (remember those?).

    HTML markup *is* code, just not “olde worlde” code.

    They could call it “the year of markup”, but that has very different and very negative connotations I think any government would rather avoid.

  21. The appaling state of the unregulated Sci & industry of xbox games.The industry,(to me as senior)seems to exist in a bubble of its own contrivance.Selfserving designers,mutual back slappers in magerzine publishing,making it the most none criticized,non- regulated new industry to come along!Where is the creatives for educational storylines,narrative unison marrying with electronic mechanics er!?Flywheelshyster.feb.2014.

  22. David says:

    You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

    Not yet, but after the year of code.

  23. Is Lottie Dexter really Jane from the sitcom The I.T. Crowd? Her lack on knowledge reminded od the bit where moz explains the internet.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iDbyYGrswtg

  24. redpola says:

    UK Govt does nothing (in the ’80s): We all learn to program just fine, thanks.

    UK Govt formalises policy to ensure we all learn to “code” (in the ’10s): Computer industry in UK fucked for 100 years.

  25. Zoe Brown says:

    Five year olds…??!! Wouldn’t it be best to finish teaching them how to read, write and add up first and as Paxman says, maybe a modern language too, and save these higher level ICT skills for when they are in secondary school?

  26. Next they’ll be appointing an environment secretary who is a climate change skeptic. oh, wait….

  27. Tim says:

    @Your Local MP
    I don’t think that will compile but it’s how things are running. It’ll crash eventually.

  28. Had a go at the web site – the Make Pong activity doesn’t work – how much have we paid for this?

    Point is, teach ‘code’ has gone in and out of favour since 1980 – there was a big push with Logo in primary schools in the 80s and 90s – it was even part of the National Curriculum. We spent millions on NetYear (2002?) which only lasted a few months. The people we have given power seem incapable of doing anything seriously, to commit to any project over time, to research it and make a genuine improvement. While they footle with this latest bit of fluff, and school with an ounce of sense is using SCRATCH from MIT which is fully supported and free. I need a hug.

  29. Peter Gathercole says:

    As Neil Lewis points out HTML is not code. It’s not computer programming so totally is irrelevant to her argument.

  30. Anonymous says:

    As someone with over 15 years experience within IT development from coding to deployment it makes blood boil!! What a bunch of brown nosing ****s (this code should be easy enough for her to figure out)

  31. I’m currently studying an MSc Computing and I can guarantee that it takes a LONG TIME to fully appreciate modern programming standards, practices and techniques. I started programming at 9 and I’m now 36 and I’m still learning. But I’m so glad that my daughter’s computering is in good hands.

  32. I would like to get involved with Year of Code to pass on my knowledge to the next generation but am concerned about the professionalism of an organisation that sends a spokesperson to Newsnight who can’t themselves code.

  33. John Davies says:

    This is like saying we all have to know how to mend a car engine. That’s what mechanics are born for. Whatever it is, I am sure it’s an art for specialists. You can be 100% sure that no Minister will ever be coding – there will be a little man (or woman) who does it for them.

  34. Mr Starnage says:

    Strangle. Leftists don’t normally have a problem with women being appointed to a job solely because they are women rather than because they are qualified.

  35. John says:

    If kids can learn to code in an hour, mine is clearly wasting £27,000 doing a degree in computer science.

  36. Ceri says:

    Lottie Dexter: “Well, you can do very little in a very short space of time.”

  37. The Qqadihuju says:

    10 PRINT “LOTTIE DEXTER IS AN IDIOT”
    20 GO TO 10

  38. Trojan says:

    I’ve been learning programming full-time for 18 months and feel like I haven’t even scratched the surface. How someone could learn enough to teach someone else in a day is mind-boggling.

    While a leader doesn’t technically need to know about something to make sure more people learn about it, it helps to know a little to be more realistic with aims/goals.

  39. @The Qqadihuju – you forgot the semi-colon… ;)

  40. Anonymous says:

    To be fair we’re talking about someone who is leading an initiative to teach children how to write very basic ‘code’, not professionals. Having someone who has no technical experience in this role (but who is willing to learn) is not necessarily a bad thing. She will probably be in a better position to communicate the very basics of learning coding skills than someone with 30 years experience.

  41. SP says:

    At least she is a lovely girl

  42. Gwee says:

    So which programming languages would you all recommend as the most useful in terms of employability/money-earning potential?

  43. Lawrence Newman says:

    Expect more of this after all the all-female shortlists in the next election. It’s really important we have more women in government, even if they are thick. Don’t shoot me, I’m not a mad lefty, I’m just a messenger.

  44. Anonymous says:

    Lighten up…nerds.

  45. Peter Farrell-Vinay says:

    HTML *is* code whether it be graphically-generated or not. It’s a language like COBOL, FORTRAN or Pascal. Neil Lewis and Peter Gathercole should check (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HTML) before making so easily falsifiable a statement. “Dave” believes that coding and computing are somehow separable: you’re not working on my team, Dave.

  46. LMAO… no wonder you idiots can’t catch me.
    Learn to code in a day? Is that why all your secure documentation is kept in PowerPoint format?

    You make me laugh so hard I’ve got Vodka coming out of my nose.

    ES

  47. brian johnson says:

    @lottiedexter…. hmmmm attractive clotheshorse, gets job she is not qualified to do… yaaay for politics !! Blind leading the blind in her department then. God help us

  48. Anonymous says:

    She is a very soft target – if “News”night actually wanted some information they should have got a spokesperson from http://www.computingatschool.org.uk/ who originally pushed for this to be on the curriculum

  49. Ian Robinson says:

    @Mark McAndrew:

    BASIC doesn’t have semicolons at the end of lines ;)

  50. This woman has no clue what she’s talking about. Learn to code in a day? Get a grip, mrs.

    @SP Whatever, man

  51. Brian Catt says:

    What is required is not learning a particular coding language, but the understanding of logic, flowcharts and how software works within a computer. From that all the changing crafts are accessible. With code you learn one transient language du jour. This is what happens whenever the PPE arts graduate know nowt ego fuelled politicians get involved in technology that they are unable to understand themselves.

  52. somebody says:

    Some really disgusting comments here about women getting jobs because they’re attractive. As if a man never got further because he was young, sharply dressed and/or charming. There’s no evidence that’s why she got the job. There are lots of other candidates in government who are under qualified and male.

    is an idiot though sadly

  53. I think teaching children the basics of code is great and very useful in the working world. Not only is a basic level of understanding becoming essential in many roles but at some point in nearly everyone career they will need to work with a computing professional and with some basic understanding of computing it will only improve this process. I don’t understand the mentality of people who are comparing it to learning to fix a car etc, which is a specific skill, learning to code is much more about understanding the basics behind it like physics for example. Most people don’t practically use physics knowledge every day but its very useful to understand the basics.

    This woman is a joke, I don’t expect her to be able to program/code, after all that’s not her job. But I certainly expect her to understand the basics of what coding is and isn’t and have a little humility, learning even the very basics of code to be able to teach it to children in a day is just ridiculous.

    I think the bit of the interview that bugs me the most is when she says if she had learned code then she could have produced her own website, app and graphics and done a better job. this not only is professionally a discussing thing to say about whoever worked with her on this but also smacks of a total lack of understanding as I’m not sure how “the basics of coding” would have helped her become a graphic designer, learn the intricacies involved in building an app or a website.

    looks like under her kids will just continue to learn how to use Microsoft office rather than any computing in school.

  54. Jonny says:

    The worst part is when she says she could have done a better job on her campaign website than the company she paid to develop it… not too convinced about that

  55. Dave Cross says:

    I don’t mind that she can’t code. I don’t think that’s a necessary part of her job. I’m impressed that she has gone on record saying that she intends to learn to code over the next year.

    But I’m rather surprised that she couldn’t find someone in her organisation who couldn’t spend an hour or so giving her a bit more of a briefing about what programming is so that she didn’t come over as a complete idiot.

    The report that ran before the interview was no better. Within the first minute, the reporter referred to code as “baffling computer commands” and “gobbledegook”. Those are hardly terms that encourage people to investigate further.

  56. Carl Jones says:

    Well said Dave Cross.

  57. JS says:

    var t=1, poke=window.setInterval(function() {
    if( confirm(“I would poke her “+t+” times?”) ) t++;
    else clearInterval(poke);
    },t);

  58. Jenna says:

    One year studying O’ level computer programming at evening classes.
    Two years doing A’level computer science in parallel (because we didn’t have the option to do the O’ level at school).
    Three years at university studying computer science.
    And I could have learned to code in an hour.
    Brilliant!

    Teaching youngsters to code is a good idea but lets look at encouraging it when they are at secondary school. There’s no point trying to teach youngsters to code that haven’t the remotest interest or more importantly the aptitude for it.

    If you are going to teach them to develop computer software then do it properly and teach them to do it all, from capturing requirements, through designing the software, writing the code, testing it and then deploying and maintaining it.

    Just as a final thought I wonder where the schools are going to get the money to pay for all the software packages they need to allow the youngsters to write code and run it and which businesses are going to end up benefiting from the contracts to supply them.

  59. Bo says:

    Anyone involved in development, engineering or tech should be massively angered by the stupidity of this interview. It DOES matter that she doesn’t know anything about basic coding/programming, OR at least be able to give an intelligent analogy of what ‘code’ (*i sigh at this term too) actually is. What exactly qualifies her as director of this subject? Beyond ridiculous. Being a ‘nice person’ as someone commented earlier shouldn’t qualify you to be a director of a subject of educational impact? Has everyone gone nuts? I might go to the local primary and start encouraging teachers to take up rocket science, I know nothing about it, but they can probably learn it in an hour and the kids will need to know it in the future cos that’s the way the world is going.

  60. The purpose of a Think Tank is to indoctrinate not think. Since the dawn of the Think Tank, the last thing I would expect from a member of one is the ability to Think. Never mind code.

  61. Oliver says:

    So many comments about how ‘you can’t learn this whole job in an hour’ or a day or whatever else they imagine she’s said.

    If you listen to the video, she explains that you can create a basic website in an hour (this is possible, I’ve done it before, with a standard template and some text and pictures, it even had a few different pages)
    And that teachers can be getting ready to introduce the basics to their children within a day, but will not be confident and qualified to teach (at a school age level, likely not the same as is covered by university) by this September.

    Admittedly, this isn’t the same as learning the whole of complex programming language, but I don’t think that’s what they’re going for, with school age kids, they just want to give them a head start, an idea of the basics, a knowledge of how to make their own websites and simple programs and so on, and a first few steps if they want to take any aspect of it further.

  62. Jason says:

    Lottie is a hottie.

  63. christ says:

    “code is a universal language”. i guess, unless, you don’t know, like, english!

    well it makes me feel comfortable knowing that if i’m ever lost in the amazon and happen upon an, as yet, undiscovered, tribe, I can use my knowledge of “code” to communicate with them.

    i’m assuming they’ll speak the same “coding languages” as i do.

  64. FH says:

    This makes me so angry. It makes a mockery of the education system, ICT and Programming within the education system and the programming community / job sector as a whole. There is no point in making programming as a career choice more accessible, if even the government can’t take the process involved seriously.

    You can learn coding in day, can you indeed love. My guess is anything you produce will:

    1) not compile,
    2) not have any practical or useful function,
    3) have no relevance to what you are trying to promote.

    There is a reason some of us spent five years going through the education system. It’s so that we don’t look like a pratt when asked basic questions on the subject. And those of us that take the industry seriously, didn’t stop at the 5 years, we are still building on the knowledge we attained as we progress through our career.

    You, lady, are a waste of space, and serve to prove everything that is wrong with this country today.

  65. Sarah says:

    don’t think this is that bad… yes she has vastly underestimated what it means to code as a professional, but what she is referring to are basic code skills which I’m sure some teachers could pick up enough to teach in a day. Just because you are at the forefront of an initiative or company doesn’t mean you have to know it inside out. She has been completely honest with how much she knows. I don’t see the problem! Why do people think that politicians can’t be humans?! How many jobs have we all started where we don’t really know what we are doing but have picked it up along the way? If she was lying through her teeth then fair enough, but she’s not.

  66. Diana says:

    Re Tim’s comment to schools about not buying iPads, the point is rather than school cupboards are full of unused Raspberry Pis. We certainly need to teach programming in addition to teaching IT skills (ie how to use packages effectively), and it’s a huge pity that someone more competent wasn’t given the role of promoting this. Does she even know that school cupboards are already full of Raspberry Pis?
    (http://www.pcpro.co.uk/news/education/386302/raspberry-pi-gathering-dust-in-schools)

  67. Herb says:

    DIRECTOR OF CODING INITIATIVE
    QUALIFICATIONS
    ESSENTIAL:
    Can write code – NO
    Can explain what it is – NO
    PREFERRED:
    Is a Tory – YES
    Worked for Iain Duncan Smith’s think tank – YES
    MANDATORY:
    Has a vagina – YES
    Is an air head blond bimbo – YES

  68. mark says:

    looks like we are heading for a nation of script kiddies with no clue about ” code ” as it is being put to us
    getting an understanding of HTML or JavaScript could be useful in some ways but considering the amount of web site building tools already out there right now how much use would learning HTML really be ?

    as for learning a coding language in a day is just fantasy

  69. Samuel says:

    /facepalm! director of coding education and she cant code OMG REALLY? FML!

  70. Cayman says:

    They should have appointed Lord Lucas. He can code. Really. Plus he publishes the good schools guide so knows a bit about education too.

  71. TomP says:

    She’s not taking a job as a code writer though is she? She’s managing a project. I don’t know who she is, but she might be a good manager. Her definition of code was fine. Paxman: “but it doesn’t mean anything though!”

    … One of them was clueless there.

  72. John Haithwaite says:

    HTML is code in the sense that it is relies on knowledge of its internal syntax and if you get it wrong it won’t work correctly but it is more correctly labelled a “Mark Up Language”. You can learn basic HTML in an hour or so and, indeed, create a very basic webpage that will display in a browser. Creating a fully functional web page with backend databases etc. does require knowledge of coding.

    Unfornunately most people learn to code in a rather uneconomic way – “There’s loads of RAM so we don’t need to make the system tight and lean” seems to be the mantra. I learnt to code in Z80A when there was 1K RAM in a Sinclair ZX81. Yes, 1,024 Bytes rather than the gigbytes available nowdays. You do tend to write very tight code with that restriction.

  73. matthew says:

    I am not too bothered about this its good characture buildig doing job your learning on the go. I do remember as a child picking up a book that we got with a BBC computer which ran dos some time in the early nineties. I picked up the book it had programs in it to type into the computer so i spent all day typing in from the book and at the end had a simple game of a wormy thing and some dots i had to miss. now while i did not understand the code i could learn enoufgh in one day to see the simple mechanics of it and start to learn it.

  74. Quaint says:

    This is no different to the minister of education never having set foot in a school as a full-time teacher. Remember friends, Britain is a business not a country; our managers don’t have to be *capable* of doing any of the work they expect from others, they just have to please the rich and toe the party line.

  75. Dave Notcammo says:

    Proof, if needed, of the cynical morons now governing us, sending airheads to defend halfbaked notions to make them look like they`re doing something while continuing the Polpot style ravaging of our social fabric using brainless greedy minions, and landgrabbing to sell off the country to the Chinese while packing their bags for the Cayman islands.Wake up people.

  76. Sophie says:

    Well I would like to thank her for being honest.

  77. Adeniran says:

    Typical Tory, waste of space, glory hunting, lying cheating, con merchant. Just like like Cameron’s suggestion about all being in it together.

    This joke will get paid and launch herself into another made up well paid position by not knowing what she expects others to do in a day and that will take her a whole year to master. Get them Tories out and give POWER TO THE PEOPLE!

  78. mattp says:

    It’s not about not being able to code, it’s about understanding code, logic, structure, software, hardware etc etc. Just an understanding is all she needs. Sadly she totally lacks that.

    I used to code long long time ago and learnt enough to make the hop to the other side (talking to business translating to developers), I can read code to a point now, doubt I could write it any more but I can certainly explain it to business people and disseminate that information back to developers.

    That’s what we need for this, someone who has feet in both camps. Sadly we get a stooge who’ll get the boot and it’ll be seen as another failed experiment lets build more houses and open more call centres.

  79. Angela says:

    These objections are just sexism. David Cameron does the right thing by appointing a woman. (I’m sure that he isn’t just trying to get into her knickers, she’s no Anne Widdicombe.) Result is a whole lot of fuss because she can’t code. She has offered to learn how to code in an hour, which shows her spunky can-do attitude. Has anyone complained because the (male) Chancellor of the Exchequer doesn’t have a clue about economics, or the (male) Minister for welfare and pensions has no experience of living on benefits? And how many operations did Jeremy Hunt perform before he became Secretary of state for health? I bet he wasn’t expected to spend 60 minutes mastering how to do appendectomies.

  80. Don says:

    while ( minister.isClueless() && minister.canBullshit() ) {
    doBullshit();
    if (minister.isPoliticalTarget() ) {
    promoteMinisterAndRecommendForNighthood(minister);
    break();
    }
    }

  81. Don says:

    while ( minister.hasPowerfulFriends() || (minister.isClueless() && minister.canBullshit()) ) {
    doBullshit();
    if (minister.isPoliticalTarget() ) {
    promoteMinisterAndRecommendForFutureKnighthood(minister);
    break();
    }
    }

  82. C# says:

    I agree you cannot learn to program in an hour, a day, even in a lifetime – but perhaps an hour is enough to overcome the fear of code and just maybe to seed an interest in the possibilities, enough to embark on a career in development.

    It’s interesting how many other developers seem to be about the same age as me – having learned on a ZX80/81/Beeb Micro. We need to do something to re-introduce programming into schools and get young people interested in it. The year of coding may not solve the problem – but at least it’s a step in the right direction!

  83. Don says:

    I felt I had to refactor this – here’s attempt no 3:

    Latest refactoring

    @Inject private FriendsService friendsService;
    @Inject private IQService iqService;
    @Inject private BullshitOmitter bullshitOmitter;
    @Inject private SundayTimesRichList sundayTimesRichList;

    private final int TYPICAL_YEARS_WAITING_FOR_THE_A_NICE_RED_GOWN = 4;

    public Date getDateToJoinHouseOfLords(Minister minister) {

    while ( canGetAwayWithIt(minister) ) {
    doBullshit();
    if (minister.isPoliticalTarget() ) {
    promoteAndRecommendForFutureKnighthood(minister);
    break();
    }
    }
    return getCurrentDatePlusYears(TYPICAL_YEARS_WAITING_FOR_THE_A_NICE_RED_GOWN);
    }

    private boolean canGetAwayWithIt(Minister minister) {
    if (isWellConnected(minister)) {
    return true;
    }
    if (iqService.isBelowAverageIQ(minister)) {
    if (minister.isPoliticalTarger()) {
    throw new EjectMinsterImmediatelyException(“Only well connected stupid people are allowed”);
    }
    }
    if (bullshitOmitter.canBullshitWithTheBestOfThem(minister)) {
    return true;
    }

    // TODO: No requirements from the idiots running this project, guess we can’t fire them….
    return true;
    }

    private boolean isWellConnected(Minister minister) {
    List friends = friendsService.getFriends(minister);
    for (Person friend : friends) {
    if (sundayTimesRichList.isInTop500(friend)) {
    return true;
    }
    }
    return false;
    }

  84. Vicky says:

    No they aren’t. People are perfectly right to complain about someone with ZERO knowledge of an area being appointed to such a key position within it. You must have your head in the sand if you have missed all the complaints about Osborne’s lack economic experience but I’m sure he could give a better definition of economics than this woman has given of code.

    I’m currently studying for a masters in Computer Science and all this appointment is doing is reinforcing the view that women can’t code. We already have enough trouble convincing employers that we are as capable as our male counterparts without this idiot popping up on national television. In job interviews we are frequently asked ‘basic’ theoretical questions that came up in a first year introductory lecture and were never mentioned again. None of my male classmates have ever had to answer similar questions (e.g. what are the four principles of OOC. still annoyed about that one.)

    People will assume that they wanted a female computer scientist and that she is the best that they could come up with. I’m fuming.

  85. Don says:

    Vicky – as someone who has been interviewed and interviewed lots of times, sorry to say it but the basics are an employers first line of defence against people who somehow have a computer science degree without a basic grasp of anything. ‘Explain the different between a value type and a reference type’, ‘Explain what a hashcode is and why it might be useful’, ‘explain the different between an interface and a class’, ‘explain what an http status code is’. They’re both filters for (the majority of) useless candidates and can lead into a discussion that could fill an entire day given the right candidate. And to be frank people usually don’t really care about specific knowledge (other than the fundamentals) as every project has its own unique mix of languages and technologies, its about showing your aptitude, knowing you’ll be asked these types of questions and knowing to go the extra 3 miles to show you really understand the reasons you use to support an answer.

    I’ve also been in interviews where they’ve assumed I knew this, meaning they also weren’t properly filtering other candidates – worst teams I’ve worked generally fall into this category.

  86. missed the point says:

    i think the point is missed completely… the introduction of code to 5 year olds can be taught in a day.

    how deep do you really think its going to be?

    with a day on the arduino, school kids are lighting leds and pushing buttons. they are learning the basics of code. they don’t need to know the low level intricacies of how it works, but they learn that a few simple commands on the right platform gets things to do things, they generate an interest, they follow the interest.

    i dont agree that this halfwit is leading the proposal, but it does make sense that she can learn the basics with the kids, and the output is explainable.

    if you did stick an MSc in there, they would jargon on about bits, bytes, command line, machine code, and how html isn’t really a coding language, and blah blah blah… the actual point would be lost.

  87. As outraged by this as I am, I still piss myself laughing when I hear her say “Well you can do very little in a very short space of time.”

    No shit.

  88. Neil Henderson says:

    Lottie Dexter is excellent. She has more balls, drive, intelligence, and determination than most of you on here. She is extremely impressive and has been given this job because she gets results. As you will find out shortly with Million Jobs she has made great strides to cut the high levels of unemployment for young people in this country. Let’s not forget that million jobs operated with little or no funding. Yet it was Lottie’s work that pushed the Government to cut national insurance for the under 21′s.
    Yes it may have not been the best interview on Newsnight but she was certainly more informed and engaged than Chloe Smith who crashed and burned. I wish Lottie all the best in this role as I think with her management and skills of strategic persuasion she will succeed and she will learn code.

  89. Neil; the problem is that the only way to make this work is to recruit a vast number people to help train the teachers. There’s not that many people in this country who can both programme and have the skills to teach it to someone else. Right now the people feeling a bit scornful are the very people they’ll be asking for help.

    I am glad she has “balls, drive, inteligence and determination”, but the interview could have gone so much better had she used the words “Hello, World.”.

    When all’s said and done I really want this initiative to succeed, {because of|despite} Ms Dexter.

    On the flip side, KANO looks excellent. It has been designed by people who really appear to have their heads screwed on right. One of the reasons that basic coding skills are useful accross the board is that you can better work with any computer system if you have an instinct for how they are designed. KANO allows a learner to use building blocks that clip together to write code. If every British child got to play with that system for an hour a week in primary school then it will genuinely change how they interact with the world. Even an ability to sling boolean logic is empowering.

    Not every child is going to grow up to be a professional programmer, but not everybody who learns their times tables goes on to be an accountant.

    Learning to programme a computer is a combination of the experience of learning to read & write, learning to play music and learning algebra. Sure, I wrote my first computer programmer in a few minutes, copying and adapting someone else’s. But that was 25 years ago and I’ve probably got my 10,000 hours under my belt, but I still would describe myself of having learned.

  90. (sorry, typo: I still would not have described myself as having learned)

  91. Coigach says:

    This is nothing to do with coding. This has everything to do with image conscious politicians putting a politically-correct female they deem to be young and attractive in front of a TV camera. Just an eye-catching bimbo.

    As far as the education system is concerned, it’s long-since knackered because there’s no concept of teaching fundamentals and building on these. Far too much being crammed down into primary schools and squeezing out teaching time for the basics. If they were going to teach anything relating to computers they’d be better starting by teaching touch-typing.

  92. Stan&Elsie says:

    I had the misfortune to come across this website from a facebook post. Isn’t it ridiculous enough that someone appointed the Director of Coding Initiative cannot code? instead this website discredits itself by taking out of context what Lottie says during her interview with Paxman and misquoting her.

    Here is what politicalscrapbook.net claim was said and what was actually said:

    Politicalscrapbook.net says:

    And after an embarrassing pause while she struggled to explain what computer programming was, she told Paxman:

    “It doesn’t mean anything to you, or indeed to me yet because I don’t know how to code”

    What she actually says after a short pause is:

    “code is the language used to instruct computers, I think that is the best way of describing it, its how you make computers do things”

    Her sentence: “It doesn’t mean anything to you, or indeed to me yet because I don’t know how to code” was said in response to Paxman turning to a screen displaying code and saying “but it doesn’t mean anything”

    She goes on to say:

    “it’s a set of instructions you type into a computer to get an output”

    How about sticking to the facts and listening to what people actually say??

  93. Adrian May says:

    My generation of coders weren’t taught by anybody. We taught ourselves cos there was nothing else to do. We didn’t have google or even a disk drive. If we wanted to play pong we had to punch the code in by hand from a book, and then punch it in again next time we fired up the box. If you want that to happen again, take away those instant-gratification games and make the kids earn their entertainment.

  94. Gopher says:

    I think they should put her in charge of the Universal Credit IT.

  95. James O'Neill says:

    Code is exciting to learn and also interesting. My students have all completed an Hour of Code and many have gone further than this. However, let’s be clear about this – Coding is NOT an essential skill for life. Anyone who thinks it’s an ESSENTIAL skill, needs to have a serious think again.

  96. Mike says:

    anybody else want to see her cope with this age old comment and explain it
    “there are 10 types of people that understand binary?”

  97. Dave59 says:

    @Rob “I want to see what she’s knocked up in a year’s time.” On the other hand, I personally want to see IF she’s knocked up in a year’s time.

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