When I conduct teacher training, my first slide asks teachers how they can solve world hunger! Most teachers are surprised by this, because computational thinking is about problem solving rather than being able to simply program a computer.
My biggest concern is that too many teachers are simply using the pedagogy of the 1980’s where students would type copies of code from a magazine and hope that they had not made any mistakes. The dangers are clearly present, because I have seen many YouTube tutorials where you simply copy from the screen what the presenter is doing and online tutorials that are little more than multiple choice or cloze tests. Whilst these might have a place when students are beginning to learn, this should not be the main staple of their computational thinking diet.
The concepts behind computational thinking go back as far as civilisation itself and even the term was in use in the late 1860’s. At its heart computational thinking comes down to breaking down problems (decomposition), recognising patterns, then focusing on the important details (abstraction) before creating clear instructions (algorithms).
All of these are skills we need in everyday life from sorting out our wardrobes through to lesson planning. The reason that they are so closely associated with computers is because your average phone can calculate approximately 2.5 billion instructions per second.
A good computing curriculum not only gives students the ability to understand computer code, but also a chance to problem solve. This could be as simple as a little debugging code or doing 5 line coding challenges in visual languages such as scratch. From there they can be truly creative and come up with solutions to real world problems.