What is Computing?

It is very easy to get a misunderstand the word computing when it has more than one meaning;

Computing (kuh m-pyoot-ing)

verb (used with object), computed, computing.
  1. verb – to determine by calculation; reckon; calculate: e.g. to compute the period of Jupiter’s revolution.’
  2. verb – to determine by using a computer or calculator.
  3. verb– Informal. to make sense; add up: e.g. ‘His reasons for doing that just don’t compute.’
Computationnoun – e.g. ‘Outer space that is vast beyond compute.’
Latin computāre,equivalent to com + putāre to think; (noun) late Middle English < Middle French < Late Latin computus calculation, number, noun derivative of computāre;
(courtesy of dictionary.com)

So computing as a term existed before the computer. It is the very process of thinking about a solution as well as (in the modern day language) the study of the computer itself and the use of the computer. This gives it at least 3 chances of being misinterpreted.
In Computing in schools then we need to make sure that we consider all three aspects when drawing up a curriculum. Sometimes there is a tendency to think of computing as being ‘just programming’ or ‘just about computers’ and the process of involving computers is so much more; more akin to the process of problem solving that goes into basic solution of engineering problems (as found in the coursework elements of ICT/Computing or the Technology syllabus).
So next time you find yourself wondering ‘What is computing?’ Try asking instead the question ‘Why do I need a computer?’

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