This is CS in K-12: Career & Technical Education

January 13, 2012 at 7:24 am 4 comments

Computer science in most states in K-12 is classified as “Career and Technical Education” (according to the Running on Empty report).  “Maybe that’s okay. Computing is important for many careers,” say some who hear this tidbit.  Maybe they don’t realize what “Career and Technical Education” is.

I’m now on a mailing list for career and technical education.  (CS in Georgia is in Career, Technical, and Agricultural Education.)  Yesterday, I got a catalog from a company that specializes in career and technical education.  Here’s what it looks like.  The people who pick the drills for your local high school may also be the ones who pick what programming languages are taught (if any). Computer science is in shop class.  There’s nothing wrong with shop class.  I’m not convinced that the preparation that makes you great at picking drills also makes you great at picking attributes of CS classes.

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Joanne Cohoon in US News on women in CS The Royal Society wants every UK Child to learn Computing

4 Comments Add your own

  • […] years of introductory computer science already.  Here in the US? Well, we’ll always have drills and drafting tables. Advertisement GA_googleAddAttr("AdOpt", "1"); GA_googleAddAttr("Origin", "other"); […]

  • 2. Cecily  |  January 13, 2012 at 10:38 am

    This post made me laugh out loud. You see, I finished my PhD at a particularly inopportune time(mid 2009) and decided to go teach K12 just to see what it was all about and to work on some skills like grant-writing and broadening my base a little. I was hired to teach a respectable trinity of CTE computer science electives at the high school level(programming, multimedia, and web design) with a 7th grade keyboarding class thrown in. That was OK. The second year, the school realized it had budget problems, so I picked up all of the required CTE classes as well, including ninth grade computer literacy and seventh grade CTE intro- the “Let’s introduce students to as many non-government and education careers as possible class and hope they know what they want to do when they are done”. I had 6 really good days of IT instruction in that class, but I really learned a lot about drills when designing the 30+ days of engineering instruction plus advising the USFirst robotics team. I figured out pretty quickly that I had no real desire to be a K12 engineering teacher- I really liked my computer lab, and I am happy to say that I have moved on. However, the experience made me realize that if people like me were struggling to teach engineering in a class like that with 30 days of instruction, there are almost certainly dozens of teachers across the state who are not trained in IT that really struggle to teach that part those six days of the class, and the students are probably not getting what they are there to learn. As far as I can tell, the default for the class is to just have students do vocabulary worksheets- like that is going to help students pick a career?

  • 3. thinkingwiththings  |  January 13, 2012 at 9:03 pm

    The real problem, as I see it in Massachusetts, is that the “career and technical education” is not for the “smart kids.” If you are bright and college bound, at least at my kids’ public high school in Massachusetts, you are steered away from these courses. Even courses that are labeled “engineering” in my son’s school are mostly targeted at the lower performing kids. So my son has had to teach himself programming, electronics, soldering, etc. He’s got no support system–it’s a “do it yourself” engineering education. Which might be OK, actually, because it means he can be self-directed and follow his own interests, but what a message to kids!

    • 4. Fred Martin (@fgmart)  |  January 14, 2012 at 12:41 pm

      Yes, and it’s been this way in the US for a long time.

      But also, we should realize that a lot of excellent HS level CS education does happen in vo-techs.

      We tend to not be aware of this because we’re all focused on academic track education.


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