Sunday, July 31, 2016

Computer Science Should Be Its Own Requirement

There is an idea that high school curriculum is a bit of a zero sum game. In other words that adding something new can only happen if something else is removed. To some extent that is true. A lot depends on various graduation requirements of course and same places have more room in the schedule than others. But any change in graduation requirements becomes a political issue of sorts. Computer Science, trying to cut out a place for itself, runs into this all the time.

Last week the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics issues a statement called  Should mathematics course requirements for high school graduation be satisfied by computer science courses?   George Reese wrote a very good Reaction to the NCTM Position Statement

The NCTM position worries that more CS will mean that students will get to college without enough preparation in mathematics. They suggest that CS should only count as a math credit if there are four years of math required for graduation. I’m sure science teachers feel the same way about CS counting as a science requirement. And language teachers about CS as a language requirement. None of these groups want to lose teaching slots for their fellow subject matter teachers. Ah, I mean, none of them wants to see students have less than adequate grounding in math, science, or language.

To me this brings out a bigger problem. I think CS should be required as a CS credit. I don’t see that happening anytime soon – politics – but it is a goal we should be working towards.


Jim Huggins said...

College curriculum battles are just as much of a zero-sum game. We don't have legislators adding constraints to the system, of course. On the other hand, we have professors with monster-sized egos --- which may or may not be worse.

Garth said...

Being the devil's advocate here is CS needed for college? Being able to operate Office pretty much is but only the uninformed would call that CS. (Notice I did not use the word "idiot" there. I am mellowing in my old age.) I have to say the same for 4 years of math. If a student is taking high school calculus and is actually going into a major that needs it odds are they are going to repeat it anyway. Would they have been better served to take CS instead of the calc considering that almost any major requiring calc also requires knowing some programming? If we look at the real world job market how much requires knowing how to solve integration by hand as opposed to manipulating a computer to do the integration? Being able to solve tasks with a computer is the ONLY way that makes sense for most jobs that use math or science. Back to the original point; is CS needed for college? Nope, but it is sure handy for science and math, maybe more handy than that AP math or science course that was designed when the slide rule was popular.