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Author Buell, Duncan
Source ACM Digital Library
Content type Text
Publisher Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)
File Format PDF
Language English
Abstract A number of recent articles and comments have discussed the imbalance between enrollment and opportunities in computer science and the under-enrollments by minorities and women. An ongoing thread in Peter Denning's Communications columns and elsewhere concerns the identity of the discipline to which we belong. As the national representative from universities to the board of the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA), I continually see the question of the identity of our discipline both within and external to our field. The identity of computer science is nowhere more important to the discipline of computer science than in the K--12 school system. We can instruct our own students in the nature of the discipline, but those we so instruct will only be those who first choose to come to us. If we want more students, and if we want to be understood for what we are, we must clarify the message about computer science that all students will receive as part of their K--12 education. Even if one does not believe that "computer science" should be taught in the K--12 system (and I know there are those who hold that opinion), it is nonetheless necessary for us to be involved in defining for the schools that which is called "computer science." There will be courses in Photoshop, Web design, office tools, A+ certification, networking, and such, and there will be (a smaller number of) courses in Visual Basic, C++, or even Java. The simple fact is that these courses will exist in the schools, and there is nothing fundamentally wrong with that. What is a problem is for students to be misled into thinking that these are all indistinguishable and all equally describable as "computer science." The burden rests with us in the discipline to educate those who administer the schools and to urge the adoption by the schools of a relevant curriculum that meets the needs of the K--12 system but that is computer science as seen by computer scientists. There are efforts in this direction, and we should be giving them active support. The CSTA has a model curriculum for high school and is developing curricula for the lower grades. CSTA and ACM have sponsored, with NSF funding, a "leadership cohort" of teachers in all the states as a way to bootstrap a network of teachers who can, among other things, speak as a group with a coherent voice about policy. And the ACM Education Policy Committee provides a voice from ACM in which all of us in the discipline have a stake. We have come more recently to this than, say, biology or mathematics, but the machinery now exists for computing practitioners and teachers to speak to those whose administrative decisions outside our discipline have a major impact on us. A Communications Viewpoints contribution by Wilson and Harsha (September 2009) provides a summary of status and progress.
Description Affiliation: University of South Carolina, Columbia (Buell, Duncan)
Age Range 18 to 22 years ♦ above 22 year
Educational Use Research
Education Level UG and PG
Learning Resource Type Article
Publisher Date 2005-08-01
Publisher Place New York
Journal Communications of the ACM (CACM)
Volume Number 53
Issue Number 11
Page Count 3
Starting Page 113
Ending Page 115


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Source: ACM Digital Library