benefit for their students. We are now
hearing similar early concerns from
our teachers. This concerns me.
Underlying all the claims is an assumption that the goal of computational thinking is to solve problems.
Is everything we approach with computational thinking a problem? No.
We respond to opportunities, threats,
conflicts, concerns, desires, etc by designing computational methods and
tools—but we do not call these responses problem-solutions. It seems
overly narrow to claim that computational thinking, which supports the ultimate goal of computational design, is
simply a problem-solving method.
I have investigated three remaining
trouble spots with computational thinking—the definition, the assessment
methods, and the claims of universal
benefit. It would do all of us good to
tone down the rhetoric about the universal value of computational thinking.
Advocates should conduct experiments
that will show the rest of us why we
should accept their claims. Adopting
computational thinking will happen,
not from political mandates, but from
making educational offers that help people learn to be more effective in their own
domains through computation.
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Peter J. Denning ( firstname.lastname@example.org) is Distinguished
Professor of Computer Science and Director of the
Cebrowski Institute for information innovation at the
Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA, is Editor of
ACM Ubiquity, and is a past president of ACM. The author’s
views expressed here are not necessarily those of his
employer or the U.S. federal government.
I extend personal thanks to Douglas Bissonette,
Mark Guzdial, Roxana Hadad, Sue Higgins, Selim Premji,
Peter Neumann, Matti Tedre, Rick Snodgrass, and
Chris Wiesinger for comments on previous drafts of
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