Spanning the Chasm of the K–12 and Post-Secondary Relationship: Chris Stephenson in Blog@CACM
Chris Stephenson’s blog from last month’s Blog@CACM highlights a significant impediment to progress in computing education. CS Faculty in universities don’t understand K-12 education (and may not respect formal education at all, as discussed previously). Education Faculty probably understand K-12 education better, but few of them are involved in computing education. We in higher-education who want to help with the development of K-12 computing education need to understand the contexts and challenges of teachers — “know thy user.”
CSTA has served as a bridge between these two worlds, explaining each to the other and helping to facilitate greater understanding and better communication. For some post-secondary faculty, however, K–12 remains a foreign territory—little understood and not easily traveled.
When you talk to college faculty, they will tell you that working with K–12 educators can be exceedingly frustrating. Administrators and teachers do not return phone calls or respond to emails, schedules change with little or no notice, and teachers are resistant to spending out-of-school time on professional development opportunities and are averse to incorporating new technologies or teaching methods.
When you talk to K–12 teachers, they will tell you the post-secondary faculty are woefully ignorant of the realities of teaching in their environment. In K–12, most teachers teach six classes per day and an increasing number have no time in which to prepare lessons. Teachers don’t have phones. Some don’t even have desks. And very few have access to a networked computer on which they can answer correspondence during their teaching day. In many U.S. states, teachers do not make a living wage and so need to take second jobs and summer jobs to support their families.