Moving From “CS for a Few” to “CS for All” to “CS For Each”

August 14, 2014 at 5:57 am 6 comments

Really interesting point from Joanna Goode.  “CS for All” should not mean “One Kind of CS that All have to take.”  Her notion of “CS for Each” goes further than the multiple CS1’s that we have at Georgia Tech.  Seymour Papert talked about the value of a personal relationship with a discipline, and I think that’s the direction that Joanna is steering us.

But, as all the students gain access to computer science learning, teachers are charged with the task of teaching each student based on the lived experiences, prior knowledge, and the wonders of the world that the child brings to the classroom. Developing a computer science classroom that welcomes each child requires a culturally responsive pedagogy that views diversity as a strength that should be integrated within the curriculum. Additional instructional supports for English language learners and students with disabilities should be developed and shared to support teachers in a CS for Each model.

via Computer Science Teachers Association: Moving From “CS for a Few” to “CS for All” to “CS For Each”.

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6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. alanone1  |  August 14, 2014 at 10:24 am

    Hi Mark

    It’s hard to see what she means (she doesn’t give examples of any kinds of possible tailoring to different backgrounds might mean).

    Do you have an idea of what this is supposed to mean?



  • 2. Mike Panitz  |  August 14, 2014 at 1:06 pm

    I do think that I could do more to individualize instruction but I’m not really sure how, exactly, one does that. Like Alan said I’d love to see examples (to emulate, to learn from, etc).

    I also get nervous about stuff like this because I don’t understand how one makes it scale. I don’t really have time to create 30 separate assignments for my 30 separate students, and I’m not sure how to offload assignment design work to the students themselves while maintaining a reasonable level of rigor/challenge.

  • 3. Mark Guzdial  |  August 16, 2014 at 11:46 am

    I think Joanna is calling for the same thing as Roger Schank when he says, “An interest is a terrible thing to waste.” (See the JLS intro which quotes him saying that.) Joanna might add, “A culture is a terrible thing to waste.” What would it mean to create CS assignments that build on students’ interests and cultural values, with changes for different individuals? On a similar thread (and providing an example of building CS education for particular cultures and value), Amy and Betsy named their article, “From Interests to Values,” in which they say: “Computer science is not that difficult but wanting to learn it is.” How might we create a curriculum and classroom context that created a wanting to learn CS?

    I have no idea how to scale it, Mike, but I agree with Joanna and Roger that it’s an important goal.

    • 4. alanone1  |  August 16, 2014 at 1:14 pm

      One of the early notions about “user interfaces for the larger public” was the dual idea (a) you have to start where they are, and (b) you should help them progress to a different “where they are”.

      This is an Education (with a big E) idea: that Education is even more about making a qualitatively better version of you, as it is about incrementally training a more skilled version of you.

      In other words, the student comes to school to get from A to B, and a good educational experience will wind the student up at a C *which they could not have conceived of on entry*.

      “(b)” has been pretty much dispensed with wrt user interface design these days, and its more important counterpart in Education has been long gone once universities decided they were in business and than the customer is always right.

      These issues are striking in elementary education. We are born with genetic propensities towards learning oral languages and for story modes of representing ideas. And, by the time we get to school (and especially by about age 7-8), we have taken on quite a few of our surrounding cultural beliefs and values as “reality”.

      So it definitely makes pragmatic sense to start there. However the students will undergo a disservice if we cater “too strongly and too longly” to oral modes, stories and local cultures.

      This is the simplest/easiest to discuss/argue about with regard to the physical sciences. The larger culture in the West was changed qualitatively by the revolutions in thought in the 17th century and beyond. It wasn’t a question of approaching physics from the standpoint of the middle ages or even the Renaissance, but in the creation of whole new schemes of thinking that were importantly not oral, not story-like and very different from the local cultures. These changes extended to not just how governance was thought about, but in the very (new) ways derived from the revolutions in thought to represent and argue about how societies should be set up.

      McLuhan: “You can argue about a lot of things with stained glass windows, but democracy is not one of them”

      I think the important principle here is to find graceful ways to move learners out of just local cultural thinking and stories and open up the much larger world of ideas and perspectives. There are many important reasons to try to do this. Not the least of them is that we need citizens (and of the world) who can think beyond the local and beyond the stories. It’s not to do away with the local but to provide larger ways to deal with desires for identity and participation.

      Another slant on this is that all the arts have intrinsic content and things to be interested in. It’s when an art has been deemed important enough that all should learn it that there are big needs to “attract” those who are not intrinsically attracted. Montessori had some of the earliest and best ideas about how to do this for 20th century epistemologies. Modern day “educators” would do well to read and understand what she had to say.

    • 5. Mike  |  August 17, 2014 at 3:12 am

      I wonder if it would be useful to look at other disciplines, and see if we can find good examples of how they’ve done culturally-based instruction.

      Even if there isn’t anything that we could copy directly it would be great to see what others have done, and it might help us brainstorm something CompSci specific that we could use.

      I would love to see how we could use culturally-based CS1/CS2 to provide a personally meaningful on-ramp to CS.

  • […] wrote a blog post recently about Joanna Goode promoting the goal of “CS for Each.”  Several commenters asked for more details.  I asked Joanna, and she wrote me this lovely, […]


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