Computer Science: a diluted term, soon to be meaningless

I just saw a grade 6 school teacher's course web page.  He teaches a "Computer Science" course wherein students learned to type and format letters in Microsoft Word and Apple Pages.

There's a high school teacher who teaches "Computer Science".  His course emphasizes drawing and painting in Photoshop, and animating things in Flash.  Yes, I know you can do a lot of programming in Flash.  No, they don't do very much programming in that course.

Teachers: Please, don't call typing and formatting a letter in a word processor "Computer Science". Please don't call a multimedia class "Computer Science".  It's confusing students into thinking "Computer Science" is what used to be called "Computer class".

If your class has a mix of subject matters, call it "Computer class", then within it you can have units on "Business Applications" or "Information Processing", "Multimedia", and maybe even a unit on "Computer Science" (which would only have programming and/or the more "math side" of computer science).

Otherwise, students will one day step foot in a real Computer Science class, be it in a high school with a real CS focused teacher, or in college or university.  And they're going to go "WTF, this isn't CS", when in fact they were duped in earlier grade school.

I've seen this happen before in a different subject: engineering.  Schools started offering "engineering" courses that were really just the old electro-technologies courses, which were closer to engineering-technician courses.  Imagine the surprise when some students who took those courses and got into university engineering then faced down the barrage of engineering math and physics courses.

Actually, who am I kidding.  It's already happening with Computer Science.  The term is meaningless among many junior high students.  Many of them think it's Photoshop, PowerPoint, or photography.

This is brand dilution.  And it's too late.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

This is so true! In fact, when I tell people my son takes computer science, I can see in their eyes I was probably saying my son is learning productivity software as opposed to doing real programming/coding. Thanks for setting people straight.