CS Education: Reshaping the Future

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

A shift is happening in public education. It’s becoming more and more student focused, helping them become agile creators rather than consumers. This shift is necessary for the growth and development of today’s students and tomorrow’s workforce. 

Why change?  

During the Industrial Revolution, companies grew rapidly and they needed a workforce to fill their factories. They wanted employees who knew how to do specific tasks along the assembly lines. Education was used to teach students specific skill sets that would be useful for these available jobs. This is where the public school system was born. 

The traditional classroom in this system looked like rows of desks lined up in front of a blackboard where the teacher gave instructions. Students all learned the same material and were tested on the same thing. This standardization enabled many people to leave school prepared to perform similar tasks. 

The school system itself reflected the excitement of the new “assembly line” method that was so popular in that era. Before this, one-room school houses were the norm where students of all ages would gather to learn enough to take care of the farm. With the Industrial Revolution, schools standardized curriculum and grouped students by age. Education allowed these students to leave school and travel anywhere in the country to find work because they had been equipped with the necessary knowledge and schools. 

This system worked well overall when it was instituted, allowing students to learn what they needed to find employment and enter the workforce. The path through school and life was simple and clear. 

An unknown future

The simple future laid out for people during the Industrial Revolution changed forever with the introduction of home computers in 1974 and the internet in 1983. Technology advanced rapidly and expanded career opportunities as it went. 

Because of the rapid changes in tech, the future of today’s students remains largely unknown. In the 1900’s teachers could reliably predict what kind of career their students would have and prepare them for that future. Now, with the rapid changes in technology, teachers are faced with the reality that they are preparing their students to navigate a career that may not even exist yet.  

The “assembly-line” style of schooling is no longer able to adequately prepare students for a diverse, mobile, and constantly fluctuating career field.  

We need adaptable, creative, and resilient students to be able to confidently enter the constantly evolving workforce.

The shift begins

The public school system has begun to recognize this need for a more flexible approach to education. Many schools are discussing student-focused curriculum while classrooms emphasize the importance of project-based learning. Nowadays, students are constantly being exposed to cross-curricular experiences that better reflect and prepare them for real-life situations.

With the internet so accessible, units in memorization are being replaced with critical thinking exercises. Adaptability, resourcefulness, and the ability to effectively collaborate with others are celebrated. A different kind of education is emerging for a different kind of working professional.

How computer science can help

It’s becoming increasingly more clear that computer science will perpetuate every career field in the future. No matter what career path students pursue, they will interact with computers. In our digital world, the need for an increased understanding of computer science is evident. 

Computer science teaches more than just how to work with computers. Even students who choose to work in a field with limited technology will benefit from learning CS by gaining valuable skills like problem solving, collaboration, critical thinking, and more. 

During the Industrial Era, workers were given a task with a specific standards to maintain. They were expected to do the exact same thing day in and day out. Nowadays, a manager will give employees a project and expect them to deliver their best work with whatever resources are available. The modern employee needs focus and creativity to leverage these resources in the most efficient and effective way.

Students who learn computer science practice these essential skills every day. Any task can be completed in hundreds of ways. There is no limit to the creativity students can express and the resourcefulness they can practice.

A shift for the future

A focus on teaching computer science helps further the shift in education from building competent consumers to building agile creators. Computer science education will help prepare students for the unknown career needs of the future as they learn to adapt quickly. 

Computer science students are capable of tackling whatever the future has in store, and we’re excited to watch them create, innovate, and change the world.

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