This week, students in classrooms throughout America - including many right here in Houston – will be answering the challenge to complete an “Hour of Code” as part of Computer Science Education Week, an annual event championing computer science in K-12. Given the ascendance of computer science as an industry, it might seem odd that such an event would be necessary – isn’t K-12 CS education doing just fine?
Surprisingly, no. As a recent article in Ars Technica reports, the number of schools offering AP Computer Science dropped 35% between 2005 and 2009, due in many cases to a lack of student demand for such courses. This is potentially a cause for serious concern, because an understanding of computer science is increasingly important for understanding the basic building blocks of our modern world. Further, without a broadening of interest in computer science at a K-12 level, the underrepresentation of women and minorities in the field is unlikely to change.
Some schools are responding by integrating computer science across subjects or, as has been TEA policy since February 2014, allowing computer science credits to count toward science and math requirements. But will these solutions be enough to create a sufficient – and sufficiently diverse – workforce for our burgeoning tech design industries?
The above-linked article, by Casey Johnston, gives a thoughtful and nuanced consideration to these issues. If your child is interested in computer science – or if your child just can’t seem to get interested in computer science – it’s definitely worth a read.