Archive for May 14, 2010

The role of single-sex schools for black and Latino men

I found this an interesting synchronicity with my blog post last week about women in Qatar and how they prefer gender-segregated schools, even as they embrace “geekiness.”  This new report highlights the value of single-sex schools in changing black and Latino men’s sense of identity.  How do you change culture?  Maybe what we’re seeing in Qatar and in this report is that you change culture for some students by first separating them from the culture that enforces the original views?  Not a new idea — Rousseau made that claim in 1762.  Maybe he was right?

Racially, a key administrator highlights how “students are bombarded with imagery and the identity of being a thug, being a gangster, being hard,” defining what qualifies one as a man. This socially constructed disconnect between what it means to be a man and what it means to be a learner presents a real challenge for the schools’ young men.

There is a fear of breaking certain stereotypes, with poverty and home/family life posing significant challenges. By providing students with a secure sense of self and an academic identity transcending a street identity, single-sex schools argue that they are able to remedy the stigma associated with becoming an educated Black or Latino male.

via Theories of Change among Single-Sex Schools – Announcements – NYU Steinhardt.

May 14, 2010 at 9:30 am 2 comments

Relevance Matters: Science needs a woman’s touch

Invention Magazine is not where I look for deep insight into science and computing education, but the piece earlier this month on “Science needs a woman’s touch” is really interesting.  In particular, this anecdote about what female students are looking for relates to my point in “Playing the Cards You’re Dealt” — students are looking for relevance, even if they themselves don’t know where their career will go or what they will be doing. The perception of relevance, the sense that it’s worth doing, is enough.

Female enrollment in the life sciences and geology remains robust; not so for physics and computer science. Herbers offers a telling anecdote.

One university wanted to interest girls in computer science. It sent out fliers to a local high school, inviting students to build computers on a Saturday morning. All boys showed up.

The university tried it again. This time it changed the wording to note the computers would be donated to inner-city schools. Girls showed up en mass.

Geology and life sciences tend to offer more tangible connections to solutions for real-world problems, Herbers says, which isn’t always articulated in the case of mechanical, electrical and computer sciences.

via Inventors Digest – The Invention Magazine for Idea People.

May 14, 2010 at 8:57 am Leave a comment

High school CS teachers under fire

I met Hélène Martin at the SIGCSE Symposium this last year, hanging out with my friend Crystal Eney. lead CSE advisor at U. Washington at Seattle.  She recently wrote up a job description (in her excellent and well worth reading blog!) for what it takes to be a full-time high school CS teacher today. There is a lot there!  While a lot of people in computing education despair about the quality of high school CS teachers, there are very good ones, and the good ones do an amazing job with little support.

I wrote this job description for a full time computer science instructor in an urban public high school a while back and realized it could be useful to share.

via High School CS Teacher Job Description | Hélène Martin.

That’s why these last weeks have been so depressing for Barb Ericson and the rest of Georgia Computes! It’s Spring, so school districts are deciding what they’re going to be doing in the Fall.  Every day now, Barb is getting email or a phone call from another high school CS teacher who just found out that he or she is losing her job.  A few of them, like our colleague Ria Galanos, are finding a way to keep their jobs by teaching math or something else.  Most are just losing their jobs entirely.  Barb says that we’re losing teachers with formal CS or IT background, who have been teaching for years — but fewer years than other teachers in the school.  These are teachers who really know the content, and who have become very good teachers.

Part of what’s hurting us here are school districts that have general policies to simply lay off the newest teachers.  Avoids complications with unions, or law suits over due process or just cause.  Simply lay off the new guy.  Computer science, being a new subject in most districts, has the newest teachers.  Recesssion is a particular bad time to establish a new discipline in K-12 schools.

The districts aren’t hiring, of course.  Computer science is simply not being taught in those schools anymore.  What’s worse, we’re losing the teachers who could bring it back.  Hard to get to 10K CS teachers in 2015 when we’re decreasing teachers in 2010!

May 14, 2010 at 8:49 am 4 comments


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