Teaching technology part 3

A teacher wrote to me: “I have been reading your articles on improving the education system. What is your rationale for teaching Computer science in elementary and high school? Why overload these students with more things to learn? Is it best to teach these subjects in college? Please advise.”

I wrote to him: “Why do we want to wait until students are in college to learn computer science and technology? Today most of them are already living in a world influenced by computing and technology. Many of them are already using laptops, mobile phone, computer games and participate in social media such as Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram. Soon they will work in places that are using a lot of computing and technology so they must begin to learn about these subjects NOW.

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Not all students will go to university. Some will stop at the high-school level and go to find a job and they need to know how to use computing tools, the same way they know how to read and write because all jobs in the future require these skills. Even some may know how to access the Internet, develop websites, using a spreadsheet like Excel or download computer games or music but many learn these skills in a shortcut way without understanding the key principles. They need to be educated on how to use them properly so they can be more productive in whatever job that they do.

Many universities today require entering students to have some technology skills rather than teaching the basics. Currently, there are a lot of first-year students with technology skill levels similar to the second-year students a few years ago. If students entering college without knowledge of basic concepts, they will not be able to compete with these students then fall behind, get frustrated and may even give up learning. If we require students to pass a college entrance exam that includes subjects like mathematics, physics or chemistry then why NOT adding computer programming as a new required subject?

If the current curriculum is too heavy, we may need to determine which subjects are needed and which ones are no longer needed then eliminate them and adding computer and technology to make sure our students can get the best training possible so they can be educated and ready to meet the market’s needs. We need to produce a technically skilled workforce to compete with others in this globally competitive environment.

I do not think to add basic technology skills in elementary and high schools would be of a burden to the students because they are necessities similar to the teaching of mathematics, physics or chemistry because whether they go to college or not, they need these skills to get the jobs of the 21st century. I think Computer Science education is a good subject that will help students through their careers and through all areas of work in the future. This is NOT the time to debate but and we need to act NOW.

Sources

  • Blogs of Prof. John Vu, Carnegie Mellon University