Today's Kids, Tomorrow's World: 5 Reasons Computer Science is Essential - AZEdNews
Sections    Tuesday March 28th, 2023

Today’s Kids, Tomorrow’s World: 5 Reasons Computer Science is Essential

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  • Michael Lee, Ed. D   |   Buckeye Elementary School District

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We all want to prepare the youth of today to be the leaders of tomorrow. Students that can adapt, demonstrate perseverance, and find their way in the future economy, are the ones who will be best prepared to fill job roles that may not even yet exist.

One way that our students can be best positioned for future success is through structured computer science (CS) education, including immersion in things such as coding, design and presentation, robotics, and problem solving. For a world whose work force will look completely different in the very near future, students need to develop a diverse toolbox of skills.

“A vast majority of tomorrow’s economy will be populated by jobs, demands, and challenges that aren’t yet known. Preparing students for that uncertainty is the greatest gift that we can provide our future leaders,” says Dr. Kristi Wilson, Superintendent of the Buckeye Elementary School District. Dr. Wilson, speaking to a national audience about the innovative new school opening in the fall of 2021, got to the heart of the opportunity by stating, “At John S. McCain III Elementary, we will be redefining learning, reimagining engagement, and exposing students to a rigorous, but highly engaging, learning experience designed for all learners.

Although such programs are in high demand, some parents may still be skeptical about whether a CS program is right for their children. Here are five reasons to reconsider.

Computer Science Programs are not “Just for Boys”

Although there is evidence that girls generally outperform boys in language arts and communication, there is often a false perception that the opposite is true about their natural talents in math, science, and sequential thinking. The emerging research does not support this belief.

Girls have been shown to be just as capable as boys when it comes to these topics, and they further benefit from the expanded opportunities for learning. Preconceptions about gender and mathematics has led to less opportunities for girls in the field, a trend that appears to be entirely “man-made.”

Interestingly, girls have even fallen victim to such preconceptions. In a 2008 study from the National Academy of Engineering, girls were twice as likely as boys to say they would not be interested in engineering, however, they regularly changed their minds when asked if they would like to design a safe water system, or study DNA to solve a crime.

Children who have historically not performed well in math and science may thrive

Prior history with CS related subjects is not an indicator of how a child might perform in a more immersive and “real-world” environment. Many students struggle in courses where they do not feel connected to the content, and authentic CS programs remove that problem, allowing students to truly engage and better understand.

Computer Science is not just for older students

Students can successfully begin to build CS fundamentals at a very early age, but only if provided with a strategic pathway. Much like learning a foreign language, exposure to underlying concepts and having chances to employ developing skills helps to establish a clear pathway to understanding. JSM’s curriculum is purposeful in its design and allows students of all ages the opportunity to soar in the area of Computer Science.

Just because it was hard for us…

Often, we project our own experiences onto our children and anticipate success or challenge. Few, if any, of us were in school when these sorts of learning experiences were possible. Further, we often learned math and science skills in isolation and disconnected from any kind of real meaning or context. Students in immersive programs have the ability to thrive in content that was once thought too difficult because they are making connections we never did.

Computer Science is essential, regardless of career path

Today’s world is rapidly evolving, and the skills required to successfully complete a CS program will serve students well, regardless of what career they choose. Today’s computer science programs teach students to persevere, think critically, share findings, persuade others, and collaborate effectively. These are the skills employers say are in short supply, regardless of the field.

The Power of being a creator

Nearly everyone is a proficient consumer of technology, however, the power is increasingly in the hands of the creators and designers. Tomorrow’s economy will further favor those who can leverage technology and create content, or products that drive it. Although parents may think their child already has enough interaction with technology, that time is usually spent being a consumer of content created by others. The leaders of the future are the ones who have created that content, designed its packaging and advertising, and figured out how to convince consumers of its worth.

Although truly immersive CS programs are hard to find, ones like what will be offered at John S. McCain III Elementary should be carefully considered by parents who are looking for a future advantage for their children. Students can no longer experience learning that prepares them for just today or for yesterday, when their future has the potential to be so bright.