Like many people I sometime lay awake at night trying to solve the major problems in the world. This is a frustrating experience for two reasons. One is that I don’t actually have the solution for the world’s problems and the second is that even when I do no one in a position of authority is likely to even care what I think. This does not stop me of course because I am an American and we never let things like that stop us.
So of course I think about solving the problems of the Middle East, energy needs for America, the US educational system and that state of computer science education in the world in general and the US in particular.
I have figured out that if we solved the power/energy problem we could build a wall around the whole middle east and impose a blockade until they all worked out their problems or the end of the world – which ever comes first. No one is likely to take that seriously though so I will not suggest it seriously.
The state of education is a real mess of a scale only a little less complex and emotional than the Middle East. So while I think about it a lot I don’t see any chance for me to get involved. I’m way to Republican for the Obama team to ask for my opinion. No doubt they will ask people who have never taught, never been on a school board and who seldom talk to teachers without preaching. Sigh.
But computer science is a little easier. Oh not easy but relatively easier. We need better teachers for one thing. That’s hard. Really hard. Even in this economy someone who really understands computer science well enough to teach it can make better money doing other things. Also we don’t really have good special training for computer science teachers. You can get a masters in teaching of math, English, world languages, science and a bunch of other things. But there is not much in the way of how to teach computer science out there. That needs to change.
Which brings up another problem. We don’t really have much good research on how to teach computer science well. A lot of the research we have seems to contradict each other as well. We have some good teachers but much of what they do is not easily reproducible. It depends of their personality or their particular experience. And sometimes on getting the right students. Yeah that is a problem. And don’t get me started on the state of certification for pre-college computer science teachers. What a mess.
So we need more research, more teacher training, better support and motivation for CS teachers, some good curriculum and then we hit the road block that it doesn’t fit into the curriculum. That gets us to school boards and school administrators who don’t understand technology let alone computer science.
Maybe I need an easier problem – like what makes women tick? 🙂