Monday, January 17, 2022

Computer Science for the sake of ?

My grandson in kindergarten has a class in reading. It makes sense as he is just learning how to read. Over time, school spends less time teaching how to read and a lot more time using using reading to support learning. For many years, I have been saying that computer science and its tools should be the same.

Early on I thought of things like using spreadsheets to look at data. More and more I see programming as a learning tool as well. But coming back to data. I recently watched a TEDx talk by Emmanuel Schanzer titled Four Ingredients for K-12 Data Science. Watch it. It’s cool. In any case, it is clear that Bootstrap Data Science takes things I used to think about to a whole new level.  I saw a presentation on this by students at a conference in the before times and was impressed with what students had learned.

Now Bootstrap is probably best known for their mix of computer science and algebra but they are moving into more areas of the curriculum and I think that is a great thing.

I’ve also mentioned Mark Guzdial’s work in teaspoon languages. (task-specific programming => TSP => Teaspoon) Mark’s work involves “adding a teaspoon of computing into other subjects.” It’s still some early days on this effort but it looks very promising.

Last spring, while I was teaching at a new (to me) school I spend some time with a teacher of astronomy. He was having his students write Python programs to solve astrophysics problems. Faster and more accurate than the slide rule stuff back in my day.

In many ways, I think the CS 4 All movement has been a bit too focused on stand alone computer science classes. Those have a role for sure and some great value. But ultimately, computer science is used in just about every discipline we have today. Teaching it in those various contexts and using CS to help learn those other areas of knowledge is were CS education can have its greatest impact. And greatest relevance. Finding more ways to do that should be a priority. Not just for CS bot for all areas of teaching and learning.

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