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Is Computer Science Education Racist and Sexist?

theodp (442580) writes | about 9 months ago

0

theodp (442580) writes ""What's wrong with this picture?" asked Code.org at its launch earlier this year, lamenting the lack of Computer Science students in a race and gender reference-free infographic. But as the organization has grown via public/private partnerships and inked agreements to drive the CS curriculum for the Chicago and NYC school systems, the same stats webpage has adopted a new gender and racial equity focus, positioning Computer Science education as "a chance to level the playing field" for women, Hispanic and African American students. The new message is consistent with the recently-forged Code.org partnership with the NSF-funded Exploring Computer Science (ECS, "a K-12/university partnership committed to democratizing computer science") and Computer Science Principles (CSP, "a new course under development that seeks to broaden participation in computing and computer science"). According to The Research Behind ECS, an "insidious 'virtual segregation' that maintains inequality" is to blame for keeping the number of African Americans and Latino/as CS students disproportionately low. So, what might the future of Code.org's proposed equity-based U.S. K-12 CS education look like? "Including culturally relevant instructional materials represented a driving focus of our course development," explained ECS Team members who now advise Code.org. "Cultural design tools encourage students to artistically express computing design concepts from Latino/a, African American, or Native American history as well as cultural activities in dance, skateboarding, graffiti art, and more. These types of lessons are important for students to build personal relationships with computer science concepts and applications – an important process for discovering the relevance of computer science for their own life." And — ironically for Code.org — it could mean less coding. "Privileging a programming-based interpretation of computer science at the expense of other foci of the domain, such as computer-animated graphics or human-computer interaction design," explains ECS, "has historically led to attracting a narrow band of students.""

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