part of what can help is using technology, whether in the training of the teachers or the training of the students. So I
constantly think about what we can do
to make the computer not just the tool
or the black slate, but bring it into the
actual educational activity itself. And
I don’t think of this as a world where
there is no teacher. I think there is
some set of kids who can learn without
a teacher, I just think the computer can
make the teacher’s job easier.
One thing that gives me a lot of
hope is, I did a survey with the College
Board revealing the fact that 75% of all
AP STEM teachers have taken at least
one computer science class in college.
That’s a huge percentage. Retraining
those teachers should be much easier
than finding tens of thousands of computer programmers who want to take
a job as a teacher. These are people
who are teachers; they have taken all
of the course work and trained to manage a classroom. And, they have taken
a semester of computer science. So, it
should be an easier job than you would
envision to get them excited and retrained, especially if you offered them a
system where the computer is helping
with the teaching.
If you look at it from the tech industry’s standpoint or the computer
science ‘yield’ standpoint, there is
an interest in getting more computer
scientists and more people to become
software programmers as their jobs.
But if you look at it from the standpoint of fifth-graders—just getting
kids more excited about what they are
should be the single most fun class
there is. You go to math class and you
do addition and multiplication tables,
and memorizing capitals of states.
And in computer class you should be
able to learn about gravity by shooting
a cannonball up a hill, and seeing how
it flies … which should be much more
fun than almost anything you do. It is
an opportunity to make existing classes more engaging, and students—
especially girls—feel more empowered
For Code.org, what do you see as the
next goal. Where are you headed now?
Right now there are two things going on. One is, I am just trying to rest.
I haven’t had very much sleep for the
their school and all of the neighbor-
ing schools. They got motivated and
they’re doing that. We’re probably not
going to talk to that person again.
people have asked what would you
say to president Obama about com-
puter science if you had his attention
for 30 minutes?
At the AMAd I listed six points as reasons to support CS in schools. But, the
most important thing for me to get the
president’s attention on would be this
subtle difference between computer
science and STEM. And that subtle difference is, I think, one of the greatest
weaknesses of the computer science
education effort. Whether in the tech
industry or the CS Ed community everybody knows what computer science is.
When you go outside, most people have
never studied it, and so it is this vague
thing they don’t understand and they
put it in the STEM bucket…and things
get lost in multiple ways. If you then
say, “things aren’t going well,” Americans are like, “Oh, yeah, we’re bad at
math and science.” What’s missing—
they don’t even realize—we teach math
and science at every school to every student. We try. And now we’re bad at it.
Whereas, in CS we don’t even teach it in
90% of the schools. We’re not even trying. There’s a big difference here.
And the other thing that gets lost
is that 60% of all STEM jobs are in the
computing arena, and only 2% of STEM
education is. And most states don’t
even classify computer science as part
of STEM. All those things get lost. So,
explaining that subtle difference to him
would be the most important thing.
On the issue of training teachers to
teach all of these eager students, the Cs
10K project is targeted at developing
those teachers. Do you have thoughts
on that task?
Well, 10,000 teachers is a lot more
than we have. It’s not sufficient to get
it into every school in the country. Personally, I think one of the things that
helps us is, we are talking about computer science, which is something so
many people like myself learned on
their own with a computer. As a result,
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