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Computer Science or Art

(42 Posts)
FiveGoMadInDorset Fri 17-Apr-20 20:11:41

DD has to make the choice between these two, they can’t accommodate both this year as uptake in computer science is lower and only running one group.

Other GCSEs are english, maths, triple science, PRE, History and DT.

She really wants to do both but we can’t decide, hasn’t helped that options evening was after lockdown. There is a very big art community in Dorset so she can do different art courses at weekends and in holidays or is doing a GCSE out of school an option for that?

Any ideas or a different view point would be really helpful, she doesn’t really know what she wants to do. She does have HFA and find art therapeutic.

OP’s posts: |
DrDreReturns Fri 17-Apr-20 20:12:47

Is she interested in how computers work and programming?

FiveGoMadInDorset Fri 17-Apr-20 20:15:52

Yes, and one of her teachers has been talking about how promising she is in that area as well

OP’s posts: |
OhhhPeee Fri 17-Apr-20 20:16:45

Computer science is really hard; you have to be working at a 6 in maths and science to choose it at my school. Has she looked at any basic programming online? Obviously art is challenging in a completely different way. Which is she most drawn to?

DrDreReturns Fri 17-Apr-20 20:19:19

Well it's hard to say! I've heard they are both 'hard" subjects, they both involve a lot of work. My son is doing both. Art would be useful for designing user interfaces in computer programming.

FiveGoMadInDorset Fri 17-Apr-20 20:25:57

She is top set for maths and science, enjoys chemistry and physics would drop biology in a heartbeat. It was that group of art, computer science and DT which she really wanted to do. Have spoken to both teachers on the phone and both happy to take her on at GSCE.

Why is life so hard sometimes (sigh)

OP’s posts: |
RedskyAtnight Fri 17-Apr-20 20:58:13

Art involves a lot of coursework. I don't know much about DT, but I imagine that does as well. Computer Science is harder conceptually but much less time consuming.

Shattered04 Fri 17-Apr-20 21:19:35

I'm going to be a bit biased here, because I'm a software engineer and goodness knows we need more women! However, I would say generally that CS opens up a lot more options than Art, particularly when it comes to higher paying and the sheer quantity of jobs - there is a massive skills shortage.

Even if she doesn't pursue it as a career (and it is a great career for people with HFA - we're everywhere!) it will make her CV stand out a bit more, especially compared to other women. Yes, you can be self-taught with computing, many are, but a bit of paper opens more doors. If she's not been doing a great deal already, the course would be even more useful if she decides to go that way in life.

The nice thing about Art is that you can do it anywhere, at any time, for therapeutic reasons. You don't need a qualification in it to benefit from that aspect of it. Plus, no idea what things are like now, but I seem to recall back in the day that those who chose Art ended up spending more time on Art homework/coursework than all their other subjects put together! And it is not as much fun when you're forced to create things you wouldn't normally choose to either.

For what it's worth - CS (certainly as a career) is a lot more creative than many people realise. If she worries about losing an outlet for creativity, there's no danger of that smile

CS can be hard, but at the risk of generalising massively, people with HFA often have the right brain for it. It's why so many of us choose it as a career!

YangShanPo Fri 17-Apr-20 21:34:41

My dd has done both options (and engineering which is very close to DT with an engineering bias) dd is very talented at art and I think that's important, it's a very practical subject, but she likes to draw or paint things she chooses not what was set by her art teacher, which was quite prescriptive stuff based on learning certain techniques. They spent ages drawing a rope at the beginning of the course, she hated that. There was a lot of coursework but not too much academic stuff to learn. All in all she didn't enjoy it but I think someone who loves art but is more flexible about what they do would enjoy it.

Computer science dd enjoyed, this is really the opposite to art, lots to learn academically very maths based, but the coding project is not actually marked but you do have to do it. So there's no true coursework element to the exam. She felt outnumbered by boys in her class. This subject is definitely for someone who likes STEM and computers not just for using them but programming and that side of things.

Dd favourite subject was actually engineering, she is great at the technical drawing and doesn't seem to mind drawing what she is told in this lesson, all the maths was easy for her as she is in top set maths and any maths in engineering was easier. She struggled a bit with the heavy machines but was good at anything that required precision like soldering. Again she was very outnumbered by boys but her teacher was a woman and that helped a lot. The engineering was a Btec with a real exam in year 10 and lots of coursework.

Dd is very organised and good at keeping up with coursework and projects, that helped in all the subjects as even in computer science they had to do this unmarked coding project of 20hours.

I think artistic ability will be a huge help in art even though they might say it's not, and you don't need to be very academic.

Also think.about what A levels etc she might do as if it's more STEM them CS seems a better choice, if more arts then art.

FiveGoMadInDorset Fri 17-Apr-20 21:57:26

Thank you all

@redskyatnight hadn’t thought of that so that is definitely a consideration.

@shattered04 such a good post thank you, I got her to read it, very insightful and what I was trying to get through to her, having done a bit of research design tech won’t preclude her from doing an art beech to applying for an art foundation if we can do art courses out of school, I could be wrong though.

@yangshan, thank you for that insight as well, she has a very distinct style and you are quite right that she may struggle with other aspects of the art course

Lots of food for thought and some thinking over the weeekend

OP’s posts: |
dontletmedowngently Fri 17-Apr-20 22:32:36

DD was due to sit her art GCSE just before the Easter holiday, but obviously this has been cancelled now. It has been a huge amount of coursework, but she is a talented artist and didn’t mind it, she was planning to take it for A level.

Four weeks after all her school work stopped and she is now loving art again without being expected to show artist influences, progression of her idea etc. She’s also strongly re-thinking taking it for A level, she says the thought of going back to doing art in that way again doesn’t appeal to her any more.

TeenPlusTwenties Sat 18-Apr-20 08:01:13

and she is now loving art again without being expected to show artist influences, progression of her idea etc.

^^This is something I read here regularly. That doing Art for GCSE can turn it into a chore to be got through, rather than enjoyment.

OP would your DD be better off doing CS GCSE and keeping Art 'for fun'?

lanthanum Sat 18-Apr-20 09:45:25

For an easier life regarding school work, CS. If she's got that bright logical brain, she'll find it straightforward, and art has the huge workload (although if they enjoy it that can be relaxing).

Keeping options open - not doing CS is unlikely to prevent her picking it up at A-level, but the problem is that it's harder to work out whether you want to study something if you haven't done it at GCSE. If she goes in the science/maths direction, she may well need to program at some point, but it is something that people pick up at different points. (My daughter has decided against CS - she would find it straightforward, and she will very likely end up in a career where she will program, but she also knows she could learn it without the GCSE.)

Ginfordinner Sat 18-Apr-20 09:54:59

^^This is something I read here regularly. That doing Art for GCSE can turn it into a chore to be got through, rather than enjoyment.

That was also true for DD. She is a talented artist and seriously considered doing A level art, but was put off it by her cousin who told her how much coursework was involved. She took science subjects instead and only after A levels did she start to enjoy drawing again.

FlyingPandas Sat 18-Apr-20 10:00:21

"This is something I read here regularly. That doing Art for GCSE can turn it into a chore to be got through, rather than enjoyment."

Would agree with this 100%.

My DS really deliberated between computer science and graphics (slightly different to art obviously, but close enough as a subject that his school does not allow students to take both art and graphics as they are deemed so similar) for his last GCSE option. He loves drawing and has ambitions to be a comic book writer. It was a close run thing.

What put him off was exactly the above - and the thought of having to do lots of coursework and produce a large portfolio (I'll be honest and say I was put off by that too, or rather by the idea of having to nag him to do it grin).

He opted for computer science and has kept art as a nice calming hobby at home. Definitely been the right decision for him.

NekoShiro Sat 18-Apr-20 10:15:51

Computer science as art is something you can self study very easily, art through the current school system doesn't leave you with much at the end.

notagaincharlie Sat 18-Apr-20 10:34:42

If she's doing DT, adding Art will be a high workload, especially if she's doing Triple Science.

If she's good at CS, it will be easy for her to excel at it. I have one dd who 'doesn't like CS, but is good at it'.....

VerbenaGirl Sat 18-Apr-20 10:44:44

My daughter has always enjoyed Art, but has not enjoyed Art GCSE. She has found it very restrictive. There is a lot of coursework, but that does mean that the grade is under your belt when it gets to exams - so the load is a bit lighter then. I think CS is a much better choice for employability if she’s interested in that.

Ginfordinner Sat 18-Apr-20 10:52:50

especially if she's doing Triple Science

I think it depends on how the school does that. When DD was at school triple science took up another option. They didn't try and cram triple science into the same number of lessons as double science. DD took triple science. As a result DD could choose from three other options instead of four.

snowy0wl Sat 18-Apr-20 12:05:44

Speaking as a woman who left the tech world last year, yes the industry needs more women but, in my opinion, it is not ready for them. There is a lot of fluffy talk about "Women In Tech", promoting women in the workplace etc, but, in my experience and many former colleagues', it's all talk and little action or mentoring.

@Shattered04 - it's really encouraging to hear that you are having a positive experience. Perhaps I just had a run of bad luck (several jobs in different industries), but after nearly 20 years of fighting for an equal place in a man's world I decided enough was enough.

OP - I wish your DD luck in whatever she decides. Even if she doesn't decide to pursue a career in IT, the basics of programming and computing will prove to be a very useful life skill, since so much of our world is online these days. xx

Shattered04 Sat 18-Apr-20 12:36:58

@snowy0wl - I certainly won't disagree with you, it's not ideal. It is getting better, gradually, but it won't get better unless we can get more females involved. I'm fairly lucky in that as I have HFA myself, I often got on better with males growing up as they seemed more straightforward. I find my work relationships (with mostly men and a few more "geeky" women) a lot easier to manage than most of the school mums, by and large.

The main issue comes from the other end as you rightly point out. The arseholes who can't get their heads around the fact you're a professional of equal status, and oh boy, have I seen plenty of those. That you do need to work harder and be better than your peers in order to progress or get paid nearly as much. While, as mentioned, the trend is definitely going the right way, and I'm seeing less twatty behaviour now than I did 20 years ago, so much depends on the company culture and immediate team, and particularly support of your direct manager. My last one was bloody useless in that regard, and he was a bully on top. My current one is the exact opposite and is very keenly aware of the unfairness. Yet culturally both companies are not entirely dissimilar, HR giving out the same positive messages, so it was just down to luck.

I'm finding people are getting more willing to call out or at least acknowledge everyday sexism, the larger tech companies are starting to openly embrace courses on unconscious bias etc. If nothing else, they have the gender pay gap results to try and improve now. I'm quietly optimistic we'll see bigger changes sooner rather than later. Right now it does seem to be mostly talk, but I am seeing signs of progress beyond that with my last two employers, and at least there is now the talk that there wasn't at all when it sounds like we both started out!

Completely agree that even if she doesn't go into computing, programming can be really useful and give the edge in other areas, especially maths and sciences. Scripting in particular is a very handy skill to have - e.g. processing lab results, or indeed bulk processing anything digitally stored in any industry!

Blibbyblobby Sat 18-Apr-20 15:02:01

This is something I read here regularly. That doing Art for GCSE can turn it into a chore to be got through, rather than enjoyment.

Well yes. Doing anything to an accomplished, professional level* takes more than just doing the bits you enjoy as a hobby. Pretty sure Serena and Venus Williams enjoy a fun game of tennis more than endless training drills!

As a CS student I loved my coding, concurrency modelling and software design modules but found networking a total grind.

I have degrees in Fine Art and Computer Science. The CS side is, of course, much more employable. Making a career in art and design is about 10% ability, 40% hustling, networking and selling yourself, and 40% having enough money behind you to work for very little or free while you build a reputation.**

If OPs daughter genuinely thinks an art career is an option for her then she should push the school to find a way to do both. If she just enjoys drawing then drop the GCSE and join an after school club.

Also, how does the school view art? Mine were dead against me doing art A level despite having a very good art department because they saw art as a good way for the less academic to get another gcse/a level but a waste for academically able pupils. So they kept switching my option groups around to make me decide between art and something else I enjoyed in the hope I’d drop art. Is there any chance the same could be happening here?

* which GCSE is not, but it’s a step on the path

** to be fair, that’s also true of tech startups grin

Blibbyblobby Sat 18-Apr-20 15:21:10

Some more general observations on art and CS:

An art degree is basically: “here’s your space, here’s the metalwork, woodwork, casting rooms etc, here’s some intro sessions on how to use the workshops without hurting yourself. Here’s some themes to explore in your first year, we’ll expect you to come up with your own ideas after that. We’ll do a couple of lectures a week on theory and history. Every few weeks your tutors and fellow students will come round in a group, you present your work and we will critique it in front of you. Oh, and to show you have what it takes to build a career as an artist we’ll expect you to create your own opportunities to exhibit and run events outside the art school. Right, crack on!”

So you either just doss for three years or you develop self direction and motivation, the skills to present your work, explain it and think on your feet, and how to apply critical thinking especially with respect to culture and media. And yes, a bit of hustle wink

Those transferable skills have been very valuable to my non-art career. I have a very different academic background to my peers and having insights and skills they don’t is kind of a super power sometimes!

Also, people think of transferring art skills to technology in terms of visual design and UX, but software design and programming is itself very creative and it fires the same bit of my brain as art did. Best way I can explain it is that if a lot of art is about trying to capture a subject, an insight or idea, interrogate it and represent it, in many ways that’s what coding is too. Yes, your code has to actually work and get the right output, but doing it well is less about telling a computer what to do and more about making the code and design succinct and clear for the next person to work on it and for your own satisfaction.

FiveGoMadInDorset Sat 18-Apr-20 15:34:15

Thank you for all your replies, unfortunately it is a small rural secondary school which doesn’t have the capacity or take up this year too do both, last year she could have done as there was more interest in CS.

My main concern is that I know enough people who are struggling to make a living from art and most do it as a hobby or are retired and she doesn’t have the hustling skills. There are also enough courses going on near where we live to help her develop.

Thank you all

OP’s posts: |
Ginfordinner Sat 18-Apr-20 15:44:24

Everyone I know who ended up taking some form of art degree did get a job, but not art related in any way.

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