Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Different Kinds of Professional Development for Computer Science Teachers

What to teach and how t teach are different questions. The first is all about content knowledge and the second is about pedagogy. For the most part it feels like professional development for CS educators is focused almost completely on content knowledge. A great many teachers are coming to computer science from teaching other subjects. There is this idea that a good teacher can teach any subject once they have the content knowledge. I’m skeptical. Computer science is not quite like other subjects. It’s more like teaching vocabulary and novel writing at the same time. We’re teaching how to write a novel to people who not only have never read a novel they don’t even know what the words mean.

Do I exaggerate? perhaps a little but the point is that we probably shouldn’t assume that teaching CS is the same as teaching other subjects. There is not a lot of professional development on how to teach CS.  We sure could use more of that.

Although if I am honest, we could use some deeper content knowledge training as well. It seems like most of what we see is pretty basic and designed for beginning teachers. But we all need more research based knowledge about how to teach what we do know.

BTW, Garth Flint had a nicely related post on his blog


Jeff said...

Great thoughts - I am also worried about how we are training teachers. Also, not sure that one week in the summer and a few days in the academic year is enough. We may be producing a lot of novice teachers in the rush to getting more schools covered, such that we may need a lot of additional followup than what is currently being provided.

Garth said...

In Montana there is no choice. There is no way to get truly qualified CS teachers. The week in the summer is all there is. Most CS teachers I know in Montana started with almost nothing and built up over time. What alternative is there? The universities do not offer CS for teachers and there is little chance of it being offered in the near future. Getting a full CS degree is not practical, especially for in-service teachers and there are very few CS teaching jobs for teachers with CS degrees only. Like zero. Until schools decide that all the money they are putting into wood shop is better spent on a CS department/curriculum week long CS workshops are going to be it.