Archive for April 7, 2012

We used to know how to teach CS in Logo

When I get into conversations about CS pedagogical content knowledge (PCK), I realize that Gary Stager is right (below).  We used to have CS PCK.  I remember “Ask three before me” and Logo songs and all the other terrific techniques that were created for teaching about Logo.  I remember square dancing at the East Coast Logo Conference, as a way of talking about procedures for turtle movements.  What happened to all those techniques?  Why did we lose them?  Gary thinks that we lost the battle when “technology” became a synonym for “computing.”  He may be right.  I also think Seymour got it right when he talked about how schooling carefully removed computing from the curriculum.  In any case, it’s a shame that we are now recreating what we once had.

Although I’m only 48, I have been working in educational computing for thirty years. When I started, we taught children to program. We also taught tens of thousands of teachers to teach computer science to learners of all ages. In many cases, this experience represented the most complex thinking about thinking that teachers ever experienced and their students gained benefit from observing teachers learning to think symbolically, solve problems and debug. There was once a time in the not so distant path when educators were on the frontiers of scientific reasoning and technological progress. Curriculum was transformed by computing. School computers were used less often to “do school” and more often to do the impossible.

Don’t believe me? My mentor, Dan Watt, sold over 100,000 copies of a book entitled, Learning with Logo in the 1980s when much fewer teachers and children had access to a personal computer.

Things sped downhill when we removed “computing” from our lexicon and replaced it with “technology” (like a Pez dispenser or Thermos). We quickly degraded that meaningless term, technology, further by modifying it with IT and ICT. Once computing was officially erased from the education of young people, teachers could focus on keyboarding, chatting, looking stuff up, labeling the parts of the computer and making PowerPoint presentations about topics you don’t care about for an audience you will never meet. The over-reliance on the Internet and the unreliability of school networks ensures that you can spend half of each class period just logging-in.

via Dumbing Down : Stager-to-Go.

April 7, 2012 at 1:37 pm 22 comments


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