Saturday, April 2, 2016

Obama's Absurd & Unnecessary CS/Computer Science Mandate

I'm wondering how much computer science President Obama knows ... or ever needed to know. Can he code? Does he know Java? Do those words mean anything to him? Are those ideas as foreign to him as the value of art history?

These questions are a signficant part of my irritation with the President naively wading into education policy again with very little knowledge of what kids need to be "successful" in the contemporary age. Truly, computer science and the entire concept of STEM are highly specialized areas that will appeal to many, but should not be forced on any. Education should be about opportunity - not mandate ... or even very strong urging and recommendations. We need fewer required classes and more options and autonomy for students. Greater flexibility in what kids learn is far more meaningful than mandates that everyone become "a digital age" worker.

In fact, the same idea can be applied to the entire idea of studying math ... or literature for that matter. Andrew Hacker has asked meaningful questions about the necessity of every high school student being forced to pursue and achieve proficiency in algebra and algebra II/trig. Hacker challenges the  conventional wisdom of numeracy instruction in his book The Math Myth: and Other Stem Delusions. Students would be equally well served - or even more so - with study of probability and statistics and financial literacy/economics and number theory and ... yes, even computer science.

Andrew Hacker’s 2012 New York Times op-ed questioning the requirement of advanced mathematics in our schools instantly became one of the paper’s most widely circulated articles. Why, he wondered, do we inflict a full menu of mathematics—algebra, geometry, trigonometry, even calculus—on all young Americans, regardless of their interests or aptitudes? The Math Myth expands Hacker’s scrutiny of many widely held assumptions, like the notions that mathematics broadens our minds, that mastery of azimuths and asymptotes will be needed for most jobs, that the entire Common Core syllabus should be required of every student. He worries that a frenzied emphasis on STEM is diverting attention from other pursuits and subverting the spirit of the country.

1 comment:

Mike Thiac said...

Mike, it’s scary, we are in agreement.

We both know my opinion of the current “occupant” of the Oval Office, we’ll let that go. But one major problem right now is we have flooded the labor force with STEP applicants. There are too many workers for the market of jobs. And there its he issue of the abuse of the H1b Visa program, like when Disney used it to ****replace**** American labor, not fill were there was a labor shortage.

In discussions with a liberal friend from high school, I mention how the drive to push the minimum wage to 15 an hour will only go to bite entry level labor. Artificially inflating the cost of labor like that will cause business to cut cost, i.e. fast food in Portland is now using kiosks to take orders. Instead of 100% of 7.25, the former burger flipper gets 100% of…nothing.

Hopefully, beginning next year there will stability in DC that will allow businesses to start expanding again. TBD.