Opinion Column

B.C. minister’s education illiteracy astonishing

By Bill Tieleman, News, Views, and Attitude – 24 hours



“You don’t actually have to be sitting in front of a computer to learn coding. There’s lots of different ways to do that.” - B.C. Education Minister Mike Bernier

This province has tens of thousands of students at risk daily because they attend schools that are potential earthquake disasters — and the BC Liberal government has not fixed them in 15 years.

B.C. has kids in need, young people in government care, put up in hotels by themselves because the BC Liberals haven’t made appropriate housing and treatment a priority, even after one teenager fell to his death from a hotel window last year.

B.C. has failed on its goal of dramatically increasing low high school graduation rates for First Nations students from 49% to 85% in the past 10 years, getting to just 62%.

With all that to fix, what does Premier Christy Clark announce at a photo opportunity last week?

That computer coding will be taught in classrooms. Seriously. And Education Minister Mike Bernier says there’s no additional money for computers, training, teachers or anything else — just an order to do it.

Apparently Bernier thinks that’s easy — why would you need a computer to learn computer coding for goodness sakes?

I guess Bernier thinks you don’t need a piano to learn to play either, but I’d bet that’s not how Elton John got his start.

It boggles the mind that these education illiterates are in charge of our kids’ education.

Leave it to an actual Vancouver computer science educator to spell out the obvious flaws in the BC Liberal announcement: “If we are regarding coding at a similar level, in their view, as woodworking, a vocational skill, then do you not need tools and wood to do woodworking?” asks Melody Ma. “That’s why ‘computer science’ has the word ‘computer’ in it.”

Fortunately, some parents and other adults have an immediate opportunity to tell the premier and minister to smarten up.

There are two byelections on Feb. 2 — and while BC NDP candidate Melanie Mark is expected to easily hold Vancouver-Mount Pleasant, an upset win by the BC NDP’s Jodie Wickens in Coquitlam-Burke Mountain would be a shock in a BC Liberal safe seat they won by over 2,000 votes in 2013.

And you won’t need a computer to figure that message out.

Bill Tieleman is a former NDP strategist. Read his blog at http://billtieleman.blogspot.com or Email: weststar@telus.net Twitter: @BillTieleman 


Do you think computer coding can be taught to students without computers?