When I started my journey as a TFA corps member, the idea of teaching computer science (CS) courses never even crossed my mind. I didn’t major in a STEM field and I never really had any aspirations of becoming a programmer.
Fast-forward five years, and you couldn’t ask me to teach anything else.
I just wish that somebody had introduced me to it sooner.
By 2020, there will be an estimated 1.4 million available jobs in computing. As a nation, we have an obligation to prepare our students to take advantage of those opportunities. Moreover, learning how to program promotes computational thinking, which can have a dramatic impact on the way a student solves problems or expresses themself through writing. Coding can also have a positive impact on a student’s reading comprehension skills.
Unfortunately, not all students have been presented with opportunities to learn about programming. Historically, the field has been dominated by white males, while participation rates in CS courses for young women and underrepresented minorities have been quite abysmal. In 2011-12, just 19% of AP Computer Science exam takers were female, while 5% and 9% were black and Latino respectively. The enrollment of black females was particularly low, making up just 1% of all AP CS test takers nationally (After doing the math, 4% of the black females who took the exam came from my classroom). Additionally, a disproportionately low number of CS degrees go to women and underrepresented minorities. In 2010, just 15% of CS undergraduate degrees were granted to women, while 10.6% were granted to underrepresented minorities.