An educational crisis

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    RLO

     I think what also needs to be discussed is industry creating the demand and vocalizing it to local leaders, the idea of the 4 year degree retooled into a associate degree program, and getting skilled programmers into the teaching of code and logic concepts.  There are lots of kids in the community college sector that would love to get in to web design, (of course that leads to programming) but the resources are few to get those kids into a class and coding.  There's also a "fear" of technology to overcome.  Also, it takes a little reality check for the kids as well.  How many kids use web based programs to blog or share photos without ever realizing that they could be the one's building it from scratch.  It never occurs to them because why build when you can use.  Speaking of programming can some one fix this UI so when I hit backspace it actually erases the characters? 

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    330angelo

    Our nation's children, for the most part, spend their childhood in a quasi-Lord of the Flies social setting, where they are taught how to pass standardized tests. It's not natural.

    Our schools don't teach children how to think or nurture their natural curiousity. They don't teach real-world skills like organization, financial competence, team-work, etc.

    Instead, they bore the hell out of kids, make learning entirely uninteresting, and transform kindergartners who start off loving school into middle-schoolers hate it.

    Our schools are like factories, bell ringing and all; how can we be surprised they aren't churning out CS caliber material? Could it be that the CS curriculum is just too tough for most public school graduates?

    Stakeholders have to look a lot deeper than the immediate problem. I'm not smart enough to pinpoint what's wrong or offer the answers...but I doubt it's guidance counselors. By then, it's too late.

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    FinancialAid

    ... the uncomfortable reality in the IT field is that IT is a pure commodity, and as such, developers who work for large corporations (where a significant portion of jobs are) tend to be treated like any commodity worker. Now, this might be fair turnabout for the 90s when anyone who could even barely slap together HTML acted like a prima donna, but the reality is that the IT field has lost nearly all its glamor.

    Chris
    The Financial Aid Podcast
    http://www.FinancialAidPodcast.com

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    Dennis E. Hamilton

    I share the concern.  I am so far away from being a newcomer that I have no perspective on what needs to be known, though.

    I wonder if we are doing something that makes computing inaccessible.  That concerns me a lot.   Last night at the Seattle Webloggers meet-up, we had an unusually geeky gathering, and we got into a rant about whether we're doing it wrong and we don't know how to engage kids.  I'm not ready to say we should have adopted Smalltalk or Squeak, but it did get me thinking that maybe we have complexified ourselves into an uninteresting vocation.  I hope not.

    Where does passion take hold that embraces CS & IT?  I remember when it was marvelous to work with computers and we were all bemused that people paid us to do it.  What happened?

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    Trix.rox

    I will be entering college very soon, and I consider myself a computer enthusiast and just all around love technology, but I would never consider going into the IT field. Job security scares me. The fact is this trend will probably continue, and more and more jobs will move over seas. I never want to find myself without a job, that would be horrifying. I think there are ways to solve this though. If Microsoft or any company is serious about wanting US jobs, pay for their college education. Administer a test every year and take the top 150 kids and pay for their college. In 4 years you have people trained and ready to go. How many problems do you know of that can be fixed in 4 years (give or take)?

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    tonetheman

    I think the issue is commodity. Programmers and programming have become and are becoming commodity. There are a few bright stars but becoming a programmer to get rich (a motivating factor) is not at best a lottery. Those few lucky ones who end up at a good start up might make millions and the rest of the programmers will not.

    Perception about offshoring is overwhelming almost all other issues. It is making programming "too common" and eventually that will turn into the attitude of programming being "not done here", if not already.

    So if I was going to approach the problem with documentation I would attack that aspect of the problem. I would also have some information on the shortage that will eventually come of all of this.

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    Stephen Clancy

    I read a lot about the decline of comp sci majors and I wonder where IT schools fit in. I am a Penn State student majoring in Information Sciences and Technology, which is a relatively new major. The idea is to emphasize a wider range of skills then just programming. We have some programming classes, some discrete math, design, and also context courses where we look at social and legal applications of technology. The program has been a pretty big success and I think we're one of the leaders in this field. I wonder whether we're part of the solution or if we're the major that is pulling people away from comp sci.

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    Autumn

    "I wonder if we are doing something that makes computing anaccessible." 

    Take a look at the culture.  I'm a female college student, who didn't become interested in CS until I'd already been at school for 2 semesters.  Even with my love for technology, I'm often put off by the elitest attitude of the computing culture.  Within the computing industry, admitting that you don't know something is grounds for ridicule and, as a result, learning becomes a very solitary activity.  It isn't the complexity of the field that scares me; it's the disdain for beginners.

    If anything needs to change, I would claim that the truly gifted need to become more approachable, and better teachers.  Of course, perhaps part of what sets them apart is that superior attitude that I find so intimidating?  What do I know...I'm just a student.

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    Pete M

    "I remember when it was marvelous to work with computers and we were all bemused that people paid us to do it.  What happened?"

    Well I and a bunch of others had that at school and that was only a few years ago so I don't think that's changed too much - but almost every job nowadays involves work on a computer - I think the passion has to come from the purpose of the work you're doing to make someone want to do a job.  With IT, or at least for me, the passion comes from being able to make changes that positively affect the world.

    On a slightly different note, it occurs to me that part of the excitement also comes with using and EXPLORING new and exciting things.  I'd say the IT world has matured considerably in the past few years and computer rooms, say in high schools, are constantly filled with people largely doing the same stuff - pushing out or assimilating the old-type elite computer crew. 

    (continued...)

  • User profile image
    Pete M

    continued...

    With respect to CS degrees, it seems in order to keep the excitement there needs to be fewer professor-led theory classes, and more industry-led opportunities.  I'm not quite sure what I mean by this - all I know is that I feel a special excitement that I can remember from my high school days whenever I'm in the presence of an IT professional at the front-line of the industry (say a Microsoft employee) and being talked to about cutting edge products and practices.

    Pete

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    dsroyall

    I read this entry with mixed feelings. There is no question that a global drop in CS graduates is not a good thing. And yet, here I sit with one of those CS degrees and 14 years of work experience, and I can't even buy an interview. My employer laid me off four years ago,  but I haven't had one interview despite sending out thousands of electronic resumes. Recruiters contact me with a great deal of excitment--until they learn that I'm in a power wheelchair and use a computer to speak with.

    It seems to me that another part of this general problem is that would-be employers ignore options that are right under their noses out of ignorance and prejudice.

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    bosky101

    Insightful observations there Kevin !

    In this post of mine , ive highlighted the urgency being assessed to promote entrepreneurship in the  educational system especially in developing countries and i think it can be extended to any system across the world .

    http://www.thestartupblog.blogspot.com/2006/03/next-wave-of-education-grooming.html


    Keep Clicking,
    Bhasker V K ,http://www.bosky101.blogspot.com

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    Christopher John Hawkins

    I myself plan on doing a Bachelor of Computer Science at LaTrobe University, Melbourne, when I've finished school (I'm currently in Year 10).

    Sorry if I confused you with the Australia schooling system - trust me, it's you who are strange, not us. Tongue Out

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    Christopher John Hawkins

    Wow, I wish that was available down here (Australia, for those of you who haven't read my other post) - or is it? I've been researching, but not found too much apart from Comp Sci that interests me...

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