reading14 — Computer Science Education

reading14 — Computer Science Education

What are the arguments for and against introducing everyone to computing or programming? What challenges will schools face as this CS4All push moves forward?

Technology has increased rapidly in the past few decades in the corporate world. We live in a world where we call rides from our phone, see someone’s live face from around the world, and store more photos and videos in a small chip than our parents could have ever imagined. During this rapid change, school curriculum has changed, but not nearly as quickly. Typing classes are available and many schools have some sort of computer science for advanced placement kids, but is that the extent of exposure we want our country’s future to have? As technology becomes more prominent, it is going to be involved in everything from innovations to scandals. Pat Yongpradit, the Chief Academic Officer of Code.org makes a point about how many people might not truly know the magnitude of Hillary Clinton email scandal.

It’s hard to understand what all the talk around Hillary Clinton’s emails means without a basic understanding of a server

Yongpradit, The Altantic

Some sort of competence in technology in today’s society is a must. Additionally, more and more jobs are beginning to use programming, or at least some concepts of programming and sorting to increase efficiency. More than just the developers at Facebook and Google need to know computer science.

Some people think that this is a waste, stating that it is a huge supply issue. Teachers that can teach computer science could easily go to work much higher paying jobs, but this can be fixed over time with training programs and the development of computer science competency in our future teachers.

Others display the need for computer competency:

“My kids won’t need to code because soon computers will just code for them,” Bradbury told us. “I fundamentally disagree with the government initiatives to get my kids coding. It’s a complete waste of time.”

Jason Bradbury, Trusted Reviews

Bradbury is foolish optimistic to claim that computers will just be programming everything for us in the future.

While it is easy to say that we need to improve CS competence in our K-12 curriculum, it is much more difficult to implement. One extremely important clarification needs to be made early: it is more important to encourage and develop understanding of computer science than simply teaching software engineering. Kids can be interested and find use from studying loops, classes, and algorithms. But making them memorize HTML tags? Forcing them to memorize current, popular stacks? This will be a waste of time and not actually teach them anything. We are devoting critical time and energy into these children and it needs to be used to pique interest and ensure that systematically, everyone with the ability to program has the opportunity.

While I would argue that not everyone can become programmers in the same way that not everyone can be great readers/writers, mathematicians, or debaters, kids should not be left behind in possible exposure because the system thinks they can’t do it. Basic concepts like logic, looping, and class design can be taught in ways that done need computers or computer science experts to teach and it can even possibly be implemented along with current core subjects. The best way to make sure everyone has a chance is to make this program required, and to do that we need to evaluate the usage of what our current children are learning.