Archive for June 11, 2010

Fred Brooks says that we should pay teachers more

Interesting interview with Fred Brooks that touches on computer science education.

What’s the state of computer science education in the U.S.? Our Achilles’ heel is elementary and middle school preparation. We are not getting as many people prepared to go into technology — and well prepared to go into technology — as we should.

I see some remarkable accomplishments happening in strong schools. But I see disaster happening in many, many schools. I think there are organizational reasons why that’s true. I think the teaching profession is not paid and recognized as well relative to other professions. As a consequence, I don’t think that many people who two generations ago would have gone into teaching go into teaching anymore. I also think that bureaucratic requirements put on teachers now hamper teaching of a lot of substance.

via The Grill: Fred Brooks.

June 11, 2010 at 12:35 pm 2 comments

Core National Standards released: Got Computing?

The Core National Standards were released June 2.  While the draft had language about computer science, I don’t see any in the released document.  There is talk about spreadsheets and modeling and even “computer algebra systems,” there is no discussion of computer science or programming.  As expected, the creation of these standards is running into opposition from those who prefer America’s long tradition of local community control of curriculum.

The greatest fear is that America’s long tradition of local control of schools will be a loss for the nation. But what made sense when the U.S. was sparsely settled in the Colonial era is hard to justify in the new global economy. It’s no longer possible to argue compellingly that geography should determine curriculum. Yet it’s going to be difficult for many people to accept the change.

What may help them is the realization that the U.S. is one of the few developed countries that lack national standards for public schools. National standards alone admittedly do not guarantee better education. (Nine of the 10 lowest-scoring countries in math, and eight of the lowest-scoring countries in science have them, as well as eight of the 10 highest-scoring countries.) But local control often has resulted in weakened standards in order for states to make themselves look good under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

via It’s Time to Adopt National Standards – Walt Gardner’s Reality Check – Education Week.

June 11, 2010 at 12:02 pm 2 comments

Back and Board

I’m back from an amazing vacation in Hawaii.  Highlights included running on a lava lake, exploring an undeveloped section of a lava tube, watching eruptions at night and from a helicopter, snorkeling in Kealakekua Bay with a dozen or more (hard to count fins on other sides of the bay) dolphins leaping and spinning around us, and watching fireworks while sitting in the warm sand at Waikiki.  I discovered again that I find surfing frustrating, and I newly discovered how much I enjoy Hawaiian Poke.

My inbox has an enormous unread count on it, of course.  My iPad arrived while I was gone, so I’m having fun using that to wade through the massive pile of missives.  Not all of my attention is on the email, though, since I am teaching five days of workshops in Massachusetts starting Monday.  This will be my first time to teach Scratch and only my second to teach Alice with Media Computation, and I have materials to prepare today.  I’m attending the last DCCE meeting of the year tomorrow.  If your note to me is in my inbox unread, my apologies and I’ll get to it as soon as I can, but probably not until next week.

One piece of relevant news.  You may recall that I posted my SIGCSE Board statement here last January. The election results were announced this last week, I’m honored to have been elected.  I am now a member of the ACM SIGCSE Board for the next three years, as one of the “members at large.”  It’s a great group of people on the Board, and I look forward to serving with them.

June 11, 2010 at 8:40 am 1 comment


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