Who Is In Charge

I have to confess that I have not been doing a great job of keeping up with my blog reading lately. I’ve been reading more books for pleasure lately. That’s been great in some respects but in others I feel like I am missing things. One post I almost missed was this one by Scott McLeod called Economically-disadvantaged students learn to do what the computer tells them. The post included two 20-year old quotes that ring as true today as they did then. Actually perhaps more so. One of them was this one:

Economically disadvantaged students, who often use the computer for remediation and basic skills, learn to do what the computer tells them, while more affluent students, who use it to learn programming and tool applications, learn to tell the computer what to do.

Neuman, D. (1991). Technology and equity. Available at http://www.ericdigests.org/1992-5/equity.htm

This ought to frighten us a little. We don’t want people doing what the computer tells them to do. We want people telling the computer what to do. That is not going to happen if students today are not given the tools to master the computer. If in fact they are trained from a young age to do what the computer tells them to do we could easily wind up with some real, but avoidable, problems. This is why we need to broaden the participation in real computer science well beyond the lucky few in good college prep schools with APCS and other opportunities to learn to control the computers.

The motto I embrace is the need to turn consumers into creators. Students in all areas need to be creators in order to be masters of their own destinies. There are movements in place to try to expand the options for computer science into more schools and to reach economically disadvantaged students but we must really do more. The jobs of the future involve a need for computer literacy. We need to empower all students to be on charge of the computers and not to be in the charge of the computers.