Google's Schmidt 'flabbergasted' at British science education

Uses MacTaggart lecture to criticise UK tech slide
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Google Chairman and ex-CEO Eric Schmidt took to the podium to give the media industry's MacTaggart Lecture in which he criticised the British education and blamed it for the "throwing away your great computing heritage."

Schmidt expressed his dismay at learning that computer science was no longer part of the curriculum in British schools, despite past efforts he hailed such as the 1980s BBC computer tie-in.

"Your IT curriculum focuses on teaching how to use software, but gives no insight into how it's made. That is just throwing away your great computing heritage," he said.

"Over the past century the UK has stopped nurturing its polypaths. There's been a drift to the humanities - engineering and science aren't championed. Even worse, both sides seem to denigrate the other - to use what I'm told is the local vernacular, you're either a 'luvvy' or a 'boffin'."

Schmidt said that the UK needed to rekindle youngsters enthusiasm for science including engineering, maths and computers. Citing the US government's plans to train an addition 10,000 engineers per year, Schmidt said the world needed more engineers.

The Google man took aim at British entrepreneur Alan Sugar's claim that "engineers are no good at business," saying "I don't think we've done too badly." Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin were both Stanford computer science PhD students when they founded Google and Schmidt himself holds a PhD in electrical engineering and Computer Science.

Revealing that Google TV is to launch in Europe early next year, Schmidt criticised government interference with the development of online TV. He took aim at the delayed YouView service saying that without government interference "you'll still have thrown away several years when the UK could have been in the lead - a lifetime technologically."

Schmidt also criticised recent overtures made by the coalition government to control social networks when they are used to organise acts of social unrest, as seen in the spate of riots.

Schmidt said the internet was a "reflection of that problem" but added that disabling internet access off would not address the causes.

The Guardian published the full text of Schmidt's MacTaggart lecture.

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