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How Teachers Can Empower Students Through Computer Science Education

October 27, 2020
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As technology becomes more ingrained in our everyday lives with the prevalent use of social media and mobile applications, it’s even more important for students to be able to participate in this increasingly high-tech society. Unfortunately, not all students have the opportunity to pursue computer science (CS) in their schools. Only 39% of high schools in California offer CS courses, while only 3% of California’s high school students took a CS course in 2017. 

Education is about both learning and empowerment—computer science empowers students with critical thinking tools, along with problem-solving, creative, and technology skills. And, the teachers who impart these skills play a critical role in advocating for equitable access to high quality computer science instruction.

Implementing CS in your school can feel overwhelming, so we've put together a handy guide to help get you started. You can check out the CS Equity Guide here

So, why is it critical that educators actively work to bring computer science to their school districts?  

  1. Learning computer science gives young people agency, and teaches them that they can be active creators of technology, instead of just passive consumers. This enables students to cultivate the change they wish to see in their communities, and empowers them to be productive members of modern society. It also encourages students to take ideas in their head, and bring them to action. 
  1. Computer science gives students from low-income families and underrepresented groups a chance to succeed in the 21st century workforce. Nearly 25% of the United States’ economic output is created by high-tech industries, with computing related occupations being the fastest growing group, projected to produce nearly 1 million job openings over the next 10 years. 
  1. Computer science allows students to learn critical computational thinking and creative skills that give them unique perspectives and approaches to problem solving. Contrary to popular belief, computer science isn’t just limited to coding—it also emphasizes computational thinking and interdisciplinary problem-solving, so that students can gain the skills necessary to apply computation in our digital world.

While having a background in CS is useful for educators, those with non-traditional CS experience—including technical or creative fields, like math or art—can also play a key role in bringing equitable CS instruction to your school or district.

There are multiple ways that educators can do this. For example: 

  1. Teaching CS classes.
  2. Sponsoring a computing club. 
  3. Working on program development. 
  4. Recruiting girls and students of color into CS classes
  5. Building support from parents and community groups.
  6. Connecting students with internships and local businesses.
  7. Building support from parents and community groups
  8. Participating in professional development programs to enhance CS skills and pedagogy
  9. Amplifying students’ work through social media and other public forums
  10. Informing your local school board and budget committees about the importance of CS. 

Teachers can join organizations and professional learning communities to learn how to best advocate for computer science in their community, such as Computer Science for California (CSforCA) and The Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA).

Bringing equitable and accessible computer science education to every school in California is a multifaceted issue that requires effort from everyone—parents, administrators, and especially teachers. Teachers are at the forefront of the education process, leaders in the space, and spend the most time with students. By investing in equitable computer science education in our schools, we’re also building the infrastructure for a more equitable society.

To learn more about how you can bring computer science to your community, download the full guide here.

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