Wednesday, March 20, 2013

CS Education Empowerment

I make it a point to tell everyone that has ears and is interested in the education of young people that they must understand that the public education system in America is not really about "education"... it is about "employment". The experience and methodology of being a student is affected by this reality profoundly. From the unions that guard employee interests, to the established goals that deliver diplomas aimed at qualifying a students prospects as an employee... public education is an employment system.

How should you process this information if you are a parent, or a student, or even a teacher looking to make an educational impact with skills you possess to inspire young minds? Well, it starts by realizing that in order to gain access to the critical skills and ideas required for self-produced success in this world, Individuals need to seek beyond the confines of the traditional classroom. A philosophical shift is required to understand self-empowerment. Standardized testing environments do not operate with the goal of creating excellence expressed on an Individualized basis... instead, they aspire to raise the average. In school, the average is the context of achievement. In real life, this thinking will harm the quality of your life, and the progress of Society.

Computer science education is really suffering in American schools. School boards often fight to keep CS out of schools so that more important and germane topics get prioritized. I know, I am in schools every week adding opportunity where it does not exist. We use "making games" as the enticement to catch the interest of young people, and our classes are filled to capacity. Along with the subject matter of learning to code, I also wrap entrepreneurship education into the mix, giving students a context for the work they are engaged in both as a class and Individually. Entrepreneurship being another topic that is absurdly missing from our public school agenda. Consider this in the context of this commercial, now roughly 33 years old:

This idea is further driven home by this exceptional story detailing the experiences of Vietnamese students in learning about CS by Neil Fraser.

In it, he further demonstrates an app example, very similar to the tool I have been using to engage 6 year old students in the process of learning how to code.

Public education in America has an indictment pending against itself; reform is desperately needed. As one of the people who believes he was mis-serviced by our current system, and its credentialing manifesto, only to be rescued by out-of-the-box entrepreneurial leaders who introduced me to tools and ideas that allowed me to define my own educational process, I am motivated to bring this perspective back into the system that is in need of being reformed by this message.

At kidOYO, we teach kids how to "own your own" education. Our approach places CS and technology generally as the infrastructure of learning that a child engages in. By mixing entrepreneurial education with this self-possessed creative tool set, we ready each child for a future wherein education is a continuing process, not a credentialed outcome, and the goal is self-empowerment, not systemic edification.

There are many paths to reform, and many tools will help with this process. Whether they bear names such as Mooc, or personal clouds, at the end of the day, this reform is about control and the meaning of participation. Students are not cogs in a machine, they are self-directed leaders, and teachers need to start facilitating the process of creativity that is so desperately lacking from their current job descriptions and systemic methodologies.

Otherwise, the disturbing trend of kids going to school for day care until they come home to learn will continue, and accelerate. And that will have a devastating effect on the integrity of our Society.

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