In case you haven’t heard the biggest news in Computer Science K-12 education these days, Harvard and Microsoft are partnering to bring Harvard’s very popular CS50 – Introduction to Computer Science – course to high schools around the country, with an internal name of “AP-CS50”. I am part of a cohort of 42 amazing teachers that plan to roll out CS50 in their high schools next year, and I am so excited to be a part of this tribe. This blog is about my experiences at CS50 bootcamp – Day -1.
I spent an amazing evening at the Microsoft Welcome Center meeting other highly driven computer science teachers from across the country, all thrilled to be part of bringing our students a rigorous and exciting Computer Science course. As I expected, each teacher I met feels passionately about bringing Computer Science and Coding to a wider audience and including a wider spectrum of students in this very important study.
What I didn’t expect, though, was to hear the same story reported to me by multiple teachers throughout the evening. Each teacher reported that his or her administrators, parents and students all fundamentally seem on board with the notion that coding and computer science should be taught to all students. Each teacher also seemed to have the needed financial support to implement these courses in his or her school. Where was the difficulty, then? With everyone on board with the notion that this needs to get done, what could be the problem?
It turns out that for each of us in a unique way, the problem is SCHEDULING! Computer Science and coding are not currently in the schedule. They are not currently part of the curriculum, and therefore, putting them into a student’s schedule upsets the status quo. Suddenly, the big idea to put computer science and coding into the curriculum is disrupting the Modern Language department’s enrollment, or preventing students from taking another History course, or making them drop an art class.
Should coding and computer science create such a disruption? Many of us (CS teachers) agree that the core subjects are good ones, and we don’t want to see the loss of great literature and writing courses in high schools as the result of teaching CS.
If we teach and offer more CS, then does that kill the awesome Digital Photography class that someone else created? Will students now feel that they have one more obligation added on, without any expectations taken away?
These are the questions of the evening, and they are real and significant. Nonetheless, we need to answer them, which will take creativity, problem solving and persistence. Conveniently, as Computer Science teachers, creativity, problem solving and persistence are part of the discipline that we teach, so I know that we will innovate to find solutions to these issues in our schools. I will share any that I hear that are useful here.
More to come from #cs50bootcamp tomorrow. Time to get some rest so I can code in the morning with some of the world’s best.