How to Not Get a Job Teaching Computer Science

1962 Ad, American School, Free Booklet

She was a software engineer interviewing for a job teaching high school computer science.

One of the interviewers read a question:

XYZ School District is committed to effective learning for all students. Key in this work is improving the success of historically underrepresented, low-income and/or students of color. What are your experiences implementing instructional strategies shown to be most effective in increasing the success of these populations?

She knew what the “right” answer looked like but after a momentary hesitation decided to answer honestly.

“I think it’s probably counterproductive to single out groups of students as needing special handling to be up to the standards of the other students.”

“We’re not saying that they’re not up to the standards of the other students,” the interviewer said.

“Okay, let me say it another way. We have four labels available: ‘historically underrepresented,’ ‘low-income,’ ‘students of color’ and ‘none of the above.’

“From a practical point of view, it seems like a very effective system. Each student is given whichever labels seem appropriate. Instead of having to assess every student in detail and then decide how to teach them, we just have to decide which labels to give them.

“It doesn’t matter that students with a certain label are completely different from one another in every other respect. The ‘low-income’ students get the ‘low-income’ instructional strategy, the ‘students of color’ get the ‘students of color’ instructional strategy, and so on.”

“So my answer is that I’m not going to implement special strategies based on assigning students to categories. I’m going to teach everyone as individuals.”

She didn’t get the job.

Thus spoke The Programmer.

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