It seems like everyday now, there is news of a new plan to introduce Computer Science classes into public schools somewhere in the world. New York City recently announced that such classes would be in all of its public schools in 10 years’ time. Only a few days later, Australia said that the entire country planned to teach coding starting at Year 5. Related initiatives have also been announced in other places as well including San Francisco, Chicago, and the UK among others.
In his Washington Post article, Coding for kids makes sense — but it’s going to take more than just classrooms to make it work, futurist and blogger Dominic Basulto warns that although he believes that such plans are worthwhile, those tasked with setting up the plans should make sure that they, you know... actually work.
Challenges facing these initiatives are many, Basulto says, including a lack of qualified instructors to teach computer science. In many places, there is no standard certification for teaching the subject, which further complicates the issue. Another problem, he says, is the risk of relying too much on the backing of tech companies, and assuming that “throwing money” at the problem will solve everything, using Mark Zuckerberg’s so far unsuccessful attempt to revitalize Newark Public Schools as an example.
Bianca Gandolfo, Cofounder of Telegraph Academy teaches San Francisco Unified School District teachers in a week-long workshop last summer.
Deviating from the “traditional approach to learning,” with its classroom teachers, homework, etc. is key, Basulto argues, when it comes to teaching coding. Doing so would not only help public schools deal with future disruptions, but would also fall in line with how coding is currently being taught in, “a world of boot camps, flipped classrooms and nanodegrees earned in a space of months, if not weeks.”
Despite the aforementioned, numerous challenges, Basulto does offer some solutions to bringing effective computer science education into schools saying:
“...programs need to think creatively about how they teach programming and to remain adaptable to changing trends within the technology sector. Educators must realize that schools are always at risk of being disrupted as superior digital alternatives emerge. It also means educators must balance on-screen time with on-floor activities to ensure the right mix of experiential learning for kids. You can’t just hand out tablets or smartphones and expect everyone to start programming.”
Here at Hack Reactor, we couldn’t agree more.
Like Basulto, we also recognize the need for more qualified teachers in computer science and have helped train instructors through partnering with Telegraph Academy, to help San Francisco United School District teachers to dive deeper into computer science helping them meet the challenges of San Francisco’s own computer science in public schools initiative.
We’ve also collaborated with MissionBit and hackEDU to help more Bay Area high schoolers have access to computer science classes where they otherwise may not have had the opportunity. Mr. Basulto would be particularly happy to see our support of hackEDU, which is a student-led computer science learning initiative.
Everything we do here at Hack Reactor is driven by the idea that knowing the right technologies can only get you so far, and that by teaching students how to tackle practical, real-world situations, they will be better able to reach their goals.
We’ve built our curriculum from scratch based on what our founders thought would be best through constant experimentation and iteration. As the industry continues to evolve, we are evolving with it, constantly updating and improving our curriculum so that students can be confident that they are always being taught at the highest industry standards.
This approach has, and will continue to make school initiatives such as the ones mentioned continue to find success.
From our successful teacher training, results-focused computer science education programs, and constantly evolving curricula, public schools around the world facing the challenges of introducing computer science to their students would benefit immensely from tapping into the expertise and experience of coding bootcamps like Hack Reactor, and we are more than ready to answer the call.