South Yorkshire college celebrates life of codebreaker

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Staff and students at a South Yorkshire college took a step back in time and got involved in a history lesson with a difference.

Dearne Advanced Learning Centre in Goldthorpe organised a special day to celebrate the life of philosopher and codebreaker Alan Turning.

A spokesman for the college explained: “In 2015 we staged an unannounced ‘Pythagoras Day’, with students arriving at school to find all teachers dressed in togas and all lessons linked to the Greek mathematician and philosopher (with themes such as mathematics, philosophy and plagiarism).

“This year, on June 28, we celebrated Alan Turing.”

The staff fancy dress theme was Bletchley Park and code breaking.

Each department prepared lessons linked to the Turing story: his contribution to accelerating the end of the Second World War; the foundations that Turing laid for computing and artificial intelligence; the ethical questions raised by his harassment, criminal conviction and punishment by British law enforcement forces for being a homosexual; the dilemmas that faced his Bletchley Park team when they held the lives of allied soldiers in their hands.

The spokesman added: “With only a small minority of our students having heard of Alan Turing at the start of the day, our school community now appreciate his huge influence not only on Britain’s history and future, but on that of the world.”

Alan Mathison Turing OBE was a pioneering English computer scientist, mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst and theoretical biologist.

He was highly influential in the development of theoretical computer science, providing a formalisation of the concepts of algorithm and computation with the Turing machine, which can be considered a model of a general purpose computer today.