We are in our last week of instruction. This is a time I reflect on what went well and what needs changing for next year. This year I don’t have to plan for next year so I will take time to reflect on thirty years. The title for today is the best reflection I have. There is more I hoped to do and things left to the next folks to continue. There are three things that are my most important unfinished business. I can only hope that the teachers that follow will continue the work. The most important thing to remember is that this is unfinished business for me and may not be something others consider important.
Classroom equity is my biggest unfinished task. Unfortunately, in the current climate when the word equity is spoken there arises a political debate that has nothing to do with what is really important. The simplest way to describe equity is that my classroom should look like the school demographically. My room has attained the racial and ethnic diversity that matches the school but gender equity is still the missing piece. Computer science, engineering, and cybersecurity courses don’t naturally attract girls. I wish there was no difference and that everyone viewed the courses as options. At Rangeview we are active with NCWIT (National Center for Women & IT) and Girls Who Code. The problem is that it is me pushing the programs and not a woman. My endorsement rings hollow because I have no frame of reference to share and even when we bring in women for the kids to meet and talk to, it still has little impact. I believe that we also have folks who should be encouraging girls into our classes who are driving them away for all the wrong reasons.
Computer Science will impact every student throughout their lives and we still don’t consider it an essential literacy. I want to create creators and not just consumers of technology. Technology is lumped into other departments in schools. There is also the belief that technology instruction is simply learning how to use a word processor or spreadsheet. It reminds me of when I arrived at Rangeview the Multimedia class was using PowerPont and creating some animations with it and we called it good. We developed multimedia into an advanced class using 3d and 3d animation. Multimedia isn’t offered anymore. CS is often just tossed into another area administratively from the district. We have district people who are not prepared to give CS the full diversity of courses that it deserves. Cybersecurity, programming, data science, game design, 3d animation, mathematical modeling, GIS, Robotics/Drone, and Artificial Intelligence are just a few of the courses and areas that should be covered. We are leaving our students behind without these courses and I was never able to find a district person who felt the same way. Programs should be based on need and not on one person who has a passion. I leave with that hurdle still in place.
My last big unfinished task has been the acceptance of SCREAM instead of STEM. STEM has relegated technology to the use of technology and not development. Schools will say they use computers so the technology piece is covered. Scream is more detailed and breaks things into their separate parts. I even have a motto: It is a scary world out there, it is time to SCREAM.
- Computer Science