First, let’s recognize that there are variety of majors that fall under what I am referring to as Computer Science. Decades ago, when CS first came onto the college scene, there were few choices…maybe Computer Information Systems, Computer Science, and a few select others.
In my book, I actually listed 20+ majors that fit into what I am talking about here.
Not only has the definition of Computer Science changed, but what it is, what it is used for, how it is approached, who approaches it, how it is taught, what content is taught, and how it fits into pretty much every discipline, industry, and culture on the planet. If you ask 10 CS teachers across the world, you’ll get 10 different definitions of Computer Science. If you ask them what should be taught in Computer Science courses, you’ll also get 10 different answers. If you ask elementary school teachers what CS looks like at that level, it is dramatically different than it looks like in middle school, which s dramatically different than it look at the high school level, and then again at the college level. That is not a bad thing…in fact…I am suggesting that is a great thing! Lots of potential to reach a wide variety of people.We need diversity and inclusion in Computer Science(in fact, go watch my last BLOG post video). But more so than the obvious, we need people who think differently, think about different things, ask different questions, have different preferences, like different things, have different priorities, approach things in different ways, problem solve differently, and break down problems in different ways. We need people from different walks of life, different views points, different backgrounds, and different perspectives.
How do we do that?
We design Computer Science programs that are also attractive to people who are not Computer Scientists. We find out what motivates them and we try to incorporate that into our CS classes. Creative CS teachers know they can teach CS skills through any context using projects and examples from any topic area. Students are free to bring whatever passions they have to the CS classroom. For-loops, boolean variables, arrays, gui events, and conditional statements do not discriminate. They will help any person, from any background, address and perhaps solve any problem in any industry.
Hence my statement that we need more Computer Science minors. Hear me on this: Not in place of Computer Science majors…IN ADDITION TO. With technology and technology tools literally at the backbone core of most industries now, it becomes even more crucial that the leaders, experts, and change makers in those industries also “get” how technology works under hood. I am not talking about knowing how to install a program and click a mouse, I am talking about developing your own programs, developing your own apps, programming your own devices…..ultimately creating your own tools. I am talking about commanding the technology to do what you need it to. Folks who are drawn to those industries are the people who know the inner workings, the priorities, the hidden meanings, the rough spots, the highlights, the bumps along the road, the mountains to climb, and the hills to speed down.
We need more nurses, accountants, fitness experts, small business owners, retail managers, lawyers, judges, doctors, teachers, artists, musicians, mechanics, and real estate agents…to THINK LIKE Computer Scientists. These are the people who are the experts in their fields. Highly unlikely that a Computer Scientists can come into their space and understand it at the depth needed to really solve the problems that need breakthrough digital solutions. But, what if these people had the skills and tool sets themselves?! Hmmmmmmmmmm.
And so we are right back where we started… We need as many Computer Science minors as we need Computer Science majors.