11,000 New Computer Science Teachers Considered Harmful?


Here’s the start of an email I got from Code.org:

We’re kicking off our summer workshops to prepare 11,000 new CS teachers. Last month we welcomed over 600 teachers, facilitators, and Regional Partners to Atlanta, GA for our largest TeacherCon ever.

On top of TeacherCon, we also have 350 K-5 workshops and 167 workshops for middle and high school teachers planned this summer, where we expect an additional 10,000 teachers who plan to begin teaching computer science for the first time this fall!

This is heralded with an exclamation point, like it’s exciting news, but as a computer science person, I can’t get excited about it. Why do we want kids to be taught computer science by 11,000 teachers who know little or nothing about computer science?

How can someone teach something that they themselves don’t do?

See if you can get excited about any of the following possibilities:

  • 11,000 math teachers who know little or nothing about math!
  • 11,000 music teachers who have never listened to a piece of music!
  • 11,000 French teachers who don’t speak French!
  • 11,000 journalism teachers who have never written for publication!

What is it about computer science that we accept teachers who have never created an original piece of software, know nothing of the history and philosophy of the subject (e.g., don’t get “considered harmful” jokes), nothing about recent developments?

When I teach computer science, I’m not relying on committees of educators and elected officials to know if what I’m teaching is valuable and how well I’m teaching it. I’m teaching something that is part of my life. I’m passing on my own insights and experience and trying to convey a way of thinking that seems valuable to me.

Can a teacher convey a way of thinking if he or she doesn’t genuinely think that way?

Thus spoke The Programmer.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *