Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Computing vs. Education

I just realized a major difference between computing and education is that to be really, really good at computing is usually an individual proposition while being really, really good at education is frequently collaborative. (Education by its very nature must be collaborative on some level.)

Some of the greatest luminaries in computing are speaking right now. Alan Kay, Vint Cerf, and Fran Allen are all talking about their view of computing and where it is going and should go. (I have to say, I would LOVE Vint to come talk to my students - he has a good way of framing ideas as questions worth thinking about.) Alan thinks the role of teaching is to impart to students a sense of quality. They can learn to DO on their own, but good teachers help them understand the difference between tinkering and mastery. 

I'm thinking about the role of CSTA in comparison. I have no idea who runs the NSTA, NCTM, or NCTE. We can identify famous tech companies but not famous schools at the K-12 level. Sure, we've had our Horace Mann and Maria Montessori, but it isn't like the (much longer than CS) history is filled with famous individuals whose names we still revere. I don't think this is a problem - CSTA is a far stronger organization as a chorus of voices representing our many, many experiences than it would be by picking just one of us.

I wonder if this difference is a factor in the difficulty getting CS people to go into teaching. One person here said earlier, "I went into CS because I wanted to work by myself!" 

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