So, I have had some experiences recently that have really driven home an educational need. I have known this to be a need for several years now, but because of my background, I did not think I would be able to fill it. I know I am not the only one with a lack of confidence though. What is this need? It's the ability to teach computer science in more than just specialized classes, and hopefully, through some of the projects outlined in this post, we might be able to give teachers the confidence to do just that.
I think to start we need to realize what kind of gap we have right now in our schools. Computer Science is in many American schools, but it is in specialized classes. In many of those schools, those classes still have a stigmatism preventing many students from signing up. If core teachers are teaching coding, often it is just as an extra thing. Neither approach is going to be effective in changing the status quo, and that is a change we desperately need.
Schools should be about preparing students for the future, but in reality, we are barely developing them for now. We focus our time on preparing them for a business world that is transitioning. As a country, we are moving from an area that was all about industrial production to an era that has the US leading in consumer technology. You can see it through the fact that consumer technology companies are now the two most valuable. The issue is that these companies and many other can't fill their current jobs. Many times they turn to other countries because the education systems are putting more emphasis on it. That's a shame, and that's something we must change.
The issue that is if it's just in a computer science class, we won't reach enough students (unless that is a requirement for everyone). As much as we hate to say it, there is also still a stigmatism about the types of students that take those classes in many places.
All this is well in good, but how do we change course? I believe the answer is getting computer science activities and curriculum into our regular core classes. We need to use coding as a way to create and as a way to teach standards based concepts. Without the connection to standards, you just plain won't get enough teachers to adopt it.
I think if you asked most teachers if computer science was important, most would say yes. If you followed up by asking if they used concepts, most would say no. This all comes down to confidence. It has just been in recent times that we have had teachers enter the workforce who grew up with consumer electronics as a big part of their lives. It's been even more recent for those who grew up with the internet as a big part of their lives. It means teachers have just plain not learned something like coding, and it can be scary.
I know for me until recently it was scary. I understand that it was important and I could some what do block coding, but getting past that was learning a whole new language. Thankfully, I had a group who sat with me and taught what I needed at the Raspberry Pi Academy, but not all teachers will have that.
That's why today, I am using this post to announce the opening of corecs.tech. The goal of the site is to be an easy to use lesson plan library filled with computer science lessons that can be used to teach core standards. My personal goal is to start working through Georgia standards to fill out the site, and I hope that others can start helping me with other states.
I hope that this can be a one stop shot for core teachers to at least try a lesson based on their standards with computer science. I think establishing confidence is the key to movement, and I know it took me A WHILE!