Coding in schools gathers steam, thanks to Microsoft, Google, Apple, Facebook et al

I began introducing coding to my 5th grade classes this year, and the interest level is truly inspiring. I was planning to up the ante in the next school year. Looks like my timing couldn’t have be better.

Many stories have begun to appear about how Coding is being pulled into the curriculum.

The latter piece (by Matt Richtel, 10, May 2014) weighs in on the pros and cons, especially wondering if there’s something iffy about having big-name backers such as Microsoft and Facebook. The insinuation is that they may have vested interests in this, and not be interested in the bigger picture of inspiring the science in computer science.

That’s being a bit too snarky. After all, the ‘career ready’ jobs that educators talk up so much are in such spaces that the present and future Gates’ and Zuckerbergs will create and nurture. I want these kids to glide into those plum jobs, ten years from now. That the runway is being paved with corporate dollars –and their sweat– is not necessary a bad thing, is it?

Also, teaching students to code is not trying to turn them into over-paid kids working out of a coffee shop. Making computer science a mainstream discipline, not a nice-to-have, is a place to start.

If you really want to know the grand plan of computer science, here is an illuminating document on Computer Science Standards for K-12 by the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA). Some of the points they stress:

  • CS’s role in “logical reasoning, algorithms thinking, and structural problem-solving.”
  • The value of being closely aligned with business people, scientists, artists etc.
  • Teaching students to work ‘cooperatively’ and ‘collaboratively’
  • Teaching ‘Computational thinking’ –from data representation to problem solving

Sounds a lot like Common Core to me. This is what educators in CS have thought through, calling for us to embed these skills as early as Kindergarten. This is not something that grew out of Silicon Valley.

It’s time we put it into practice. The kids are hungry for this!

Quotes for the week ending 29 Feb, 2008

“The whole 19th-century model of scarce distribution and abundant attention has been flipped on its head.”

Tony Quinn, in OMMA, on why we should change our behaviors, not our messages in a web 2.0 world.

“The right successor to the DVD is not Blu-ray or anything else. It’s the web.”

The Economist, 23 February 2008.

“The issue is no longer whether or not social media should be used. That genie is out of the bottle …The stress point has now moved to how the enterprise will use social media..”

Shel Israel, on there being two camps in social media. Camp #1 tends to ruin it for everyone else. It is run by marketing people who use social media simply for brand awareness.

“The authority factor over-weights (sic) poor writing skills”

ProBlogger Daniel Scocco, one of the top 100 blogs on Technorati, answering the question if poor writing skills overshadow good content.

“This election year, anyone can be a Henry.”

Lee Gomes, in The Wall Street Journal, on how a reader called Henry, commenting on the ABC News web site, thought to be a staffer at a presidential campaign, turned out to be a high school teacher.