[Computational Complexity] Computer Science in High School
When I went to high school (1978-81) we had a computer room with three teletype machines that connected at 10 characters/second and we saved programs on paper tape. We also had a math teacher, Mr. Jaeger, who taught us not only how to program those computers but also used them to teach concepts like probability. We would run simulated card shuffling algorithms to test our calculations of the probabilities of poker hands.
A recent AP article says that computer science courses in high schools are getting less interest from students as well as from the states setting curriculum. This decline in interest at high school leads to the decline in CS majors we see throughout the American universities. A similar phenomenon is going on in many other countries as well.
The usual reason given is the perception of a weak job market in computers. But I think there is another issue. In my high school days, outside of a few games you couldn't do much with a computer unless you programmed. Today computers have become almost as commonplace as televisions and teens use them for a variety of tasks, including researching on the web, communication via email, instant messaging and blogging, and writing papers, all without an inkling of how to program. Computers have become a commodity and they don't see an additional value in knowing how and why they work any more than they need to know physics to drive their cars.
One of the great challenges of computer science was to make computers important and useful in everyday life. We are now becoming victims of our success.
Posted by Lance to Computational Complexity at 7/07/2005 05:46:00 PM