Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Computer Science

In insight into the thinking of the NPR crowd.  A story about how public schools are failing to provide any education at all in computer science.  

Because they are forced to pay equal salaries to all teachers, and the products our education "schools" can't use a calculator, much less a computer.  But then the NPR conclusion?  It's a problem of "inequality."  No, it's the consequence of the fact that anyone who possibly can is pulling their kid out of the dysfunctional public school system, and trying to save them. 

Spending more on public schools will not help; as the story notes, the people who run public schools think that having a computer available means students know how to code.

That's about like saying that having a car in my garage makes me a mechanic.  No.  It doesn't.


W.E. Heasley said...

When the resources are bestowed upon the institution rather than the student, then the environment for shenanigans to occur is greatly increased. The power purveyors of the institution turn the resource flow into a spongy conduit rewarding themselves first and students last. Over time less and less resources arrive in the class room for the student’s benefit and more and more resources are direct to the power purveyors of the institution.

One is merely viewing the classic case of a collective, where ever increasing inputs produce ever decreasing outputs, shirk increases, all the while power purveyors of the collective concentrate on enriching themselves. Same song, different beat.

Maybe the NPR gang would benefit from a remarkably short yet extremely insightful book by Harold Demsetz entitled From Economic Man to Economic System.

Tom said...

So ninety percent of schools don't teach programming (and most of the
rest teach it poorly), so "your kids aren't going to have the
preparation they need..." Ha! (This IS meant to be a joke,

Right? Meanwhile, at least two education experimenters provided
computers to kids with computers and absolutely no instruction on their use. (Standard, English language computers to kids who do not speak English!) In remarkably short times, the kids mastered the machines to the point where they could re-enable functions that the donors had thought were forbidden. (Most recent example is here.)

The trouble is not in the kids; it is in the schools.

Gene Callahan said...

"The computers are old or outdated."

That is a weird complaint as to why they can't teach computer science: I think computer science was the same thing on the old computers as it is on the new ones!

John Covil said...

Tom, I learned a lot about operating computers from having one on hand growing up. It was a huge blessing and definitely gave me an advantage in life. But that's still a very different skill set from programming (what we generally mean by Computer Science), which I learned little of before college. There is overlap, and some people pick it up naturally, but it's complex and sometimes non-intuitive. It is precisely the sort of thing that can be taught well or taught poorly. Just my experience/view.

I'm not sure, though, whether teaching programming to most/all students at the secondary level of schooling is a pressing requirement. But I think teaching how to operate computers may be, and the best way is to just mess around. I just can't imagine any school system giving students such unmonitored access to their computers.

Anonymous said...

My public high school had a computer science department. We also happened to be in one of the wealthiest counties in the country. Not a disagreement with you, just a comment.