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We ran the cardboard racing/fighting robots workshop yesterday in Cambridge with kids aged 8 to 12. I’d run the same workshop in Shenzhen in April and the contrasts between the Chinese and British kids were not what I had expected... Thread! 1/10 #STEAM
Based on the stereotypes I’d expected that the kids in China would be really well behaved, obedient and academic but not very good at making things or thinking creatively. I’d expected the kids here in the UK to be harder to manage but better at the activity 2/10
I experienced the reverse. The kids in Shenzhen were joking / goofing-off all the time, causing trouble, making loads of noise and were bored by the powerpoint, BUT they really concentrated when I showed them the practical stuff about working with cardboard, electronics etc 3/10
AND they were really good at it. They paid attention to the details of what I was showing them, mastered the techniques and then applied them to build robots that were creative and demonstrated a high level of both craft and appreciation of the engineering involved. 4/10
In contrast the kids in Cambridge were more ‘disciplined’. They even put their hands up to ask questions and called me sir at the beginning. They sat down quietly. I had zero concerns about giving them glue guns and knives. BUT they (mainly) really sucked at the activity. 5/10
They would obediently crowd around to watch the practical demonstrations but they wouldn’t really pay attention to what I was showing them, and it was like they were holding the knife and ruler for the first time, like they had never built anything with their hands before 6/10
So in the end their robots were mainly bad. Some of them had cool ideas but their standard of execution was mostly so shoddy they weren’t able to execute them. Don’t get me wrong we had a fun day, we had a good race and battle, and there were a couple of good bots 7/10
But in general I was quite shocked and it’s made me really worried about what’s going on in our schools. There’s been a belief in government that we need to orientate the education system around ‘academic rigour’+'3Rs' to counter a perceived threat from countries like China 8/10
This has lead to Design and Technology collapsing in UK Schools. But in China they are pursuing the opposite policy, getting as much as possible hands on creative making activity into schools, because they know these are the skills kids will need to succeed in this century. 9/10
Judging by my [admittedly extremely limited] experience with this workshop both governments seem to be succeeding in their objectives, but I think the Chinese are pursuing the more useful policy. 10/10 [ends] @DTassoc
The Tories: 'We need more creative entrepreneurs like James Dyson'

Also the Tories: 'Let's completely eliminate the skills he used to build his hugely successful business from children's education'
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