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High School Computer Science: Does Not Compute?

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  • H.Boldt
    replied
    High School Computer Science: Does Not Compute?

    Hassan: You know I can't resist the temptation to nitpick! German and English do indeed have common roots. But I think you'll find Dutch somewhat closer to English than German. To take your example, you might find the Dutch sentence "Dit is mijn water" a bit more understandable. Also, German retains some features that English has largely lost, such as gender (masculine, feminine and neuter) and case (nominative, genetive, dative and accusative). Cheers! Hans

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  • MCWebsite.Staff
    replied
    High School Computer Science: Does Not Compute?

    ** This thread discusses the Content article: High School Computer Science: Does Not Compute? **
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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    High School Computer Science: Does Not Compute?

    I believe German is the closest language to English followed by Spanish. French has a totally different structure and set of voices. Just see the following example of German vs English. "This is my water". "Das ist mein wasser". Hans can nitpit my grammer but dont you think German almost sounds a different dialect of English?

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    High School Computer Science: Does Not Compute?

    My daughter herself is in Visual Arts. It was common to teach computers as part of the visual arts and that is why the school you mentioned used to offer computer courses. However now a days computer literacy has gone up and visual arts course designer probably assumed that everyone has basic computer training that is enough for visual arts.

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  • R.Daugherty
    replied
    High School Computer Science: Does Not Compute?

    Many years ago when I was in 9th grade we were told to choose a major. This was to force us to choose an academic track for high school. There was some career information provided and quite a bit of effort put into this, including aptitude testing. I chose accounting, computers not being accessible to the unwashed masses then. I chose accounting because I had to choose something. It's sort of a joke. On the one hand it does have an impact on what courses you sign up for in high school, on the other it is way too early in life to decide what you are going to be when you grow up. I signed up for the accounting track in 10th grade, hated it and most everything else about school, and in 11th grade was in vocational Electronics. In 9th grade I doubt that I knew what vocational Electronics was and pretty sure it wasn't a "career" that I could choose. On the other hand, I've spent many years now writing business programs including lots of accounting. And there are lots of similarities in accounting and programming aptitudes. So it wasn't that far off base. It just wasn't programming though. rd

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  • H.Boldt
    replied
    High School Computer Science: Does Not Compute?

    I know things have changed a great deal since I was in university in the late 1970's, but at that time, my university profs preferred that computer science students have NO prior computer courses. Otherwise, they had to spend too much time unlearning what they learned in high school. Should students choose a "major" in high school already? I would hope not. We're putting an awful lot of pressure on them already. The last thing they need is to have to decide on a career path before they reach adulthood. Ours kids should be given the opportunities to be exposed to a wide range of subjects and ideas before being expected to make a career decision. They shouldn't be forced into a career simply to suit particular corporate needs. Should there be a standardized national curriculum for high school computer science? I'm not sure that can easily be achieved. Nor do I think it would necessarily be a good thing. Although there are some really good dedicated teachers, I suspect most would end up teaching computer science courses straight out of the textbook. Most students would be lost, but the real geeks would be able to teach compsci to the teachers! Cheers! Hans

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    High School Computer Science: Does Not Compute?

    Hans, Thank you for your insightful comments. While I agree that many high school teachers who are tasked with teaching Computer Science fall short of the mark, I don't think this is a valid approach to solving the puzzle. The report mentioned in my article stresses that one of the major problems is that HS CS teachers are not kept current, that they are treated as second-class instructors by their institutions and colleagues, and that they need better training with current resources to overcome these challenges as well as a new definition of their mandate within the classroom. These, in my estimation, are the keys to increasing interest and participation from students. In Napa, California they have opened a public charter high school devoted to teach technology, and part of the curriculum is the study of Computer Science. The teachers there are motivated and dynamic, and the student population responds accordingly. There is no substitute for gifted teachers in any situation, but too often the curriculum in public schools becomes watered down and distracted by "political" processes driven by well-meaning state officials with a political agenda. What's missing is a comprehensive curriculum in many schools which is aimed at long-term results. This doesn't, imho, mean teaching towards delivering better results on standardized tests (the "No Child Left Behind" curriculum) but looking at the student as an individual and building a curriculum that meets the needs of the student (and not the politicians in the state houses.) Can such a curriculum be established? Rudolph Steiner was very successful, and his success has been wonderfully illustrated in a number of private schools throughout the country. Using another tactic, the charter school in Napa CA has had very good results opening up the world of technologies as a basis for exploring the real issues facing students today. Their class rooms are filled. If we remove a subject from a class room simply because it's being taught "badly", we're acknowledging that we've failed as educators to put our best resources behind our efforts. That seems to be the circumstance that is occuring in today's high schools in regards to Computer Science. The report cited lists a number of things that educators can do to improve their results in HS. One thing is to develop a national curriculum for teaching the topic. That's one of the reasons why I suggest that readers send a copy to their school administrators. As this forum topic has proved, the issue is "hot" in the minds of many people. College is too late, in this global economy, to begin teaching students about CS. Recall that Jeb Bush, Gov of Florida, has proposed that high school students should already "know" what their majors in college will be. Public universities are tracking students from the day they register. There are fewer and fewer opportunities for students to experiment with their educational courses. That's why exposure to CS in k-12 grades should be better instituted and incorporated into a standardized curriculum, with better trained teachers and better resources. Just my opinion. Best, Thomas M. Stockwell Editor in Chief MC Press Online

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  • H.Boldt
    replied
    High School Computer Science: Does Not Compute?

    Thomas is exactly right - the report was written by high school teachers, not by industry experts. In spite of that, many people here used the report to further their own specific gripes that had nothing to do with the report. But another thought just occurred to me on the question of why fewer and fewer students are pursuing education in computer science after high school. For most people of my generation, our first exposure to computer programming was in university or college, taught by people who really understood and had a passion for the subject. These days, though, students are taught programming in high school. Although most high school teachers are passionate about their profession, teaching involves different skills and talents than programming. I remember some of my math teachers who seemed to have as much trouble with the subject as most of my classmates. My point is that for most people these days, their first exposure to programming is through high school teachers who don't have a really good grasp of the subject. This has to have a negative effect on students, and may discourage at least a few from pursuing careers in the field. Perhaps one answer is to have LESS computer science education in high schools? What do you think? Cheers! Hans

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  • R.Daugherty
    replied
    High School Computer Science: Does Not Compute?

    I agree with the French thing, Dave. Same thing here, except I didn't later experience osmosis in the south of France. The logic example you give is also applicable to exposure to Boolean algebra, for example. Teaching the ability to use logic is not teaching a computer language syntax, but the language syntax is required to put theory into practice and learn. rd

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  • David Abramowitz
    replied
    High School Computer Science: Does Not Compute?

    I would not be qualified to address the fields that you mention, but if you will allow a personal example: I studied French, in Junior High School, and High School. I was lousy at it, but a foreign language was required at that time, so I had to pass it. I repeated quite a bit, because I kept failing the subject. They taught vocabulary, and conjugation, some basic sentences, pronunciation, etc. Many years later, I spent about three weeks in the south of France, and Monaco. I learned more from osmosis in those three weeks, than I ever did in High School. In many cases it is the same with programming languages. The syntax is taught, but not fundamental problem solving, or real world business situations. It is also why giving an end user query tools does not always work: A user complained to me that his report was coming up empty, when he knew for a fact that there should be hits. I inspected the query and immediately saw the problem. (State = "OK" and "TX"). I told the user that this should be (State = "OK" or "TX"). He argued "No,,,, that's wrong..... I want to see them both.... Oklahoma and Texas"! Dave

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  • R.Daugherty
    replied
    High School Computer Science: Does Not Compute?

    That's interesting, Dave. Does your reasoning apply to Latin, or Geometry, or even Law, or just limited to programming? And why? Teaching Latin and Geometry was teaching the discipline of reasoning and the ability to study the reasoning of ages. One can shuffle through Geometry as I did, not learn Latin and the rigors that entails as I did not, and not learn to program virtual worlds. As you say, mental discipline is not for all. But for those that it is for, teaching the ability to converse with computers is now just as worthy as teaching to converse with the ages. rd

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  • R.Daugherty
    replied
    High School Computer Science: Does Not Compute?

    I just took a look at the article, Nathan, and the proposed $100 laptop (paid for by governments/foundations, etc., in other words free to those they are given to) has better specs than my laptop. Won't have a problem running anything. Of course, at $100 it is spec'd out at Linux. This is along the lines of what Gates/Buffet want to do for education for all, so I can see that foundation paying for Windows as an option if this were to come to pass. rd

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  • nandelin
    replied
    High School Computer Science: Does Not Compute?

    I'm having trouble keeping my mouth shut about the prospect of giving students a low-cost network device to access network resources made available by schools. A low-cost laptop might not run Windows, Microsoft Office, or anything based on Java, but who cares? Install a small footprint version of Linux, Firefox, and possibly Open Office on an internal flash card, then access the network for everything else. Okay, for computer science geeks, give them a Linux based 5250 emulator and an iSeries user profile ;-) Nathan Andelin

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  • David Abramowitz
    replied
    High School Computer Science: Does Not Compute?

    I will disagree with you on this one Ralph. The ability to learn a computer launguage is separate, and apart from the ability to program. The reason I state this is that not every one has either the business acumen, or the talent to approach a situation (problem) from a logical perspective. Logic is the digital rosetta stone. The language used to express that logic is something else. Dave

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  • nandelin
    replied
    High School Computer Science: Does Not Compute?

    I question the wisdom of promoting advanced level computer science in high school. Kids can focus on college prep, music, and physical education in high school, liberal arts and sciences during their bachelors program, then pick an advanced focus during a masters or doctoral program. A lot of doors are closed to people without masters degrees in an economy dominated by large companies and organizations. Outsourcing, H1B visas, Y2K bungling, the dot.com bust, monopolies, poor employment prospects, the hassles of managing complex and disparate technologies in today's IT environment, and other factors are discouraging people from looking at a career in computer science, which is sad. On the bright side, there's a program at MIT to develop a $100 laptop for students that has captured my attention. Click on the photo gallery at the link below to see a number of design features that set the prototype apart. Low Cost Laptop for Students We're beginning to see robust applications with rich user interfaces, books, and curriculum deployed on servers on the Internet. Enabling students to carry around a rugged low cost device that plugs into wireless network resources made available by the school, might rekindle an interest in computer science, as well as enhance the education experience. Having a thin client alternative to the HEAVY applications and HEAVY workstation requirements of today would be nice. Deploy robust, high-performance Web applications on an iSeries and offer a connection to students, teachers, and administrators. Nathan Andelin

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