## Teaching Computer Science: Incentives (or Lack Thereof)

22 Mar 2015 / Paul EppsAccording to this article on TechCrunch, “Every California high school must establish computer science courses as part of its core curriculum.” From the same article: “Most California teachers have little or no training to teach computer science.”

Do you see the problem there?

I’ve been a programmer for many years . . . I’d be glad to teach computer science to students, teachers or anyone who wants to learn it if there were even a modest incentive to do so. Which there isn’t.

One way to measure how much people want something is how much they’re willing to pay for it. There’s no shortage of people talking about teaching programming and computer science, which is free (the talking, that is), but without the incentives ($$$) very little is going to actually happen.

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23 Mar 2015 @ 1:56 am

Did insistence on teaching the metric system ruin students’ understanding of binary numbers?

As usually portrayed by educators, the English volume system is an irrational jumble. Much like photograph of a grinning snaggletoothed 10-year-old, there were a lot of gaps in the typical educator’s presentation.

Yet, an examination of the compete base 2 English measurement of volume scheme reveals it to a perfect way to teach binary numbers. Each unit in the full system is either a half or a doubling of the previous unit.

For example, working up the scale:

2 jacks = 1 gill

2 gills = 1 cup

2 cups = 1 pint

2 pints = 1 quart

2 quarts = 1 pottle (not to be confused with bottle spelled with a b)

2 pottles = 1 gallon

Thus, by insisting that students learn the supposedly more logical base 10 metric system, educators may have unwittingly undermined comprehension of the binary numbering system necessary for grasping the basics of machine language programming.

Unfortunately, even if the English volume system were taught in schools, the rigidity of formalized classroom instruction discourages students from messing with numbers. Thus, students are all but forbidden to freely explore what happens to binary structure when a digit in moved one space to the left or right, or is replaced with its opposite value.

Sometimes, it isn’t a lack of money that holds things back. It’s the absence of freedom to explore that’s the problem.