Should the ambassador for the government's "Year Of Code" know how to, um, code?
It's a question that's divided developers and educators since last night's appearance of Lottie Dexter, director of the government-backed Year Of Code, appeared on Newsnight.
Asked by interviewer Jeremy Paxman what code actually meant, she replied:“It doesn’t mean anything to you, or indeed to me yet because I don’t know how to code."
Dexter said she had given herself a year to learn code, but said she believed educators could learn the basic skills to teach children in a day. Dexter, a campaigner on youth unemployment, is the former Communications Manager at the influential think tank founded by Iain Duncan Smith MP, the Centre for Social Justice.
One of those quick to wade in on Dexter's competence was Clive Beale, director of educational development at Raspberry Pi.
— Clive Beale (@clivebeale) February 6, 2014
So government appoints of merit but appoints year if code director who can't code and couldn't explain it but is conservative #newsnight— Paul Coulton (@MysticMobile) February 5, 2014
But Alasdair Blackwell, the director at Decoded, the code-in-a-day company which has been offering free places to school teachers to enable them to teach kids the basics of understanding computer code, told HuffPost UK that he thought the criticism online was misplaced.
"She's a great ambassador," he said. "From our perspective, it's important that this project is headed by people who want to make this accessible and friendly. The stereotype is computer nerds, having flame wars on Twitter about the right kind of Java to teach kids. She's learning along the way. Anyone who stands up for the right of children to have access to this incredible tool called the internet is doing a great job."
"What is definitely possible is giving teachers the ability to teach the history and basics of coding in a day, which I believe is what Lottie was talking about," Ian Fordham of the thinktank The Education Foundation told HuffPost UK.
It is a "twitter storm in a teacup", according to Fordham. "What others seem to be conflating this with is teaching students a whole computer science curriculum in a day which is clearly not possible and not what she was saying."