The Christian Science Monitor has an editorial about the decline in Computer Science enrollment. [Link from Kevin Briody] They point out that the number of students taking the Advanced Placement Computer Science (APCS) exam is down as is the number of people majoring in CS in college. The drop in women is even worse. This is scary to me.
People, especially students, have the wrong idea about computer science. They think it is boring work done by people locked in windowless cubicles. They think computer science doesn’t matter.
But they are wrong. OK sure some people work in cubicles but that’s about as far as it goes. Increasingly projects involve more interaction with people and not less. Developers today need to share ideas and plans with their peers. It is more social today. You need communication skills. And what developers do can make a difference.
There is a bigger message though. Bill Gates has been quoted as saying that after medicine computer science has the biggest opportunities to make a positive difference for society. I happen to think he’s right. When I talk to high school students (which I do a lot but would like to do even more) I tell them to think not about money, though the money in computer science is good, not about jobs, though there really are lots of CS jobs, but to think about the chance to change the world for the better.
I think that computer science teachers as the high school and younger level are important for the future of the US and the world. It is up to them to communicate an excitement for the opportunities that computer science provides. As the motto for the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) goes, “CS Rocks!”
We have to let kids know the truth. We have to let school boards know that CS education is important. We have to start making a difference. If you are a teacher and I can help you please let me know.
BTW if you are a K-12 computer science teacher you will want to look into the Computer Science Teachers Association.