"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Computer science for all?

Sent to the New York Times, Jan. 31
President Obama has called for "a Deeper Commitment to Computer Education," (January 30), proposing that $4 billion be invested in computer science education. In the past, these proclamations were based on the assumption that there is a serious shortage of technology-trained workers in the US. This claim has been shown to be false. In fact, there is a surplus.
Now the message is that computer knowledge is needed in many professions. (The president mentioned auto mechanics and nursing.) But this is computer use, and does not require knowing how to program and design software.  It requires knowing how to use specific programs. It is not "computer science," just as driving a car does not require deep knowledge of auto mechanics.  Nevertheless, the president emphasized programming and learning to code, "computer science for all."
My daughter has pointed out to me that to learn how to use many programs, all you need is a good friend to show you how.
I was not surprised to read that the president of Microsoft thought the president's proposal was a good idea.
Stephen Krashen
Professor Emeritus, University of Southern California

Original article: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/31/us/politics/obamas-budget-urges-a-deeper-commitment-to-computer-education.html?_r=0
Sources: Salzman, H. & Lowell, B. L. 2007. Into the Eye of the Storm: Assessing the Evidence on Science and Engineering Education, Quality, and Workforce Demand. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1034801 Salzman, H. and Lowell, L. 2008. Making the grade. Nature 453 (1): 28-30.Salzman, H. 2012. No Shortage of Qualified American STEM Grads (5/25/12) http://www.usnews.com/debate-club/should-foreign-stem-graduates-get-green-cards/no-shortage-of-qualified-american-stem-grads. Teitelbaum, M. 2014: http://www.latimes.com/opinion/commentary/la-oe-teitelbaum-stem-fears-20140420,0,120851.story#axzz2zYCn7SCA; Weismann, J. 2013. More Ph.D's than the market can absorb:The Ph.D Bust: America's Awful Market for Young Scientists—in 7 Charts. The Atlantic, Feb 20, 2013. http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/02/the-phd-bust-americas-awful-market-for-young-scientists-in-7-charts/273339/


  1. Maybe he should propose returning civics, social studies, and the humanities to schools.

    Seems we need of more of that, and computer science.

    As John Dewey said, "It's all important."

  2. Exactly, I'm with you, freetoteach. I would like to reduce computers in K - grade 4. Begin formal computer in grade 5. It's not rocket science.

    Parents need to stand up for their children and help us get rid of Common Core in public and Catholic schools. Return to local control.

  3. Anonymous12:32 AM

    Is "Computer Science for All" some kind of joke? How many highly experienced computer engineers and programmers over the age of 50 have been thrown on the discard heap because of their age?

    If you want to set up your son or daughter to be unemployed when they hit 50, go ahead and encourage them to learn coding.. Better you should send them to business school so they can join the ranks of the useless and overpaid corporate executives.