Don’t Get Left Behind in Computer Science Education
Written by Chris Yust, from Homeschool Programming, Inc.
As a homeschool teacher, when you hear the term “Computer Science Education”, do you feel a little shiver of fear? The odds are most parents never learned to code growing up and may not feel comfortable teaching this critical subject to their homeschooled children. However, several long-term trends suggest that NOW is the time to introduce your students this critical subject.
A Great Job Market for Software Engineers
Those of us that lived through the 1990’s Internet bubble and “dot.com” cycle remember that many software engineering jobs were shipped overseas. This is true, but it’s not widely known that many of these jobs came right back onto US shores, and the job market for US software engineers is excellent, with a bright long-term outlook.
Consider these facts from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics:
- Software Development is a 30% growth job market over the next 10 years
- 3 out of every 4 new science and technology jobs through 2020 are in computing
- Unemployment for software engineers is about 4%
Wow! These statistics (and many others) tell us that the US is not currently producing nearly enough software engineers to fill the demands of the job market.
National Recognition for Computer Science in STEM Programs
National policy-making organizations and the federal government are slowly beginning to recognize the gap in computer science education in our school systems. This past October, the STEM Education Act of 2015 made sure that “computer science” was included in the federal definition of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) programs. Imagine that…the most highly sought jobs under the STEM umbrella were not even considered part of the STEM program until recently!
One of the bottlenecks to expansion of computer science education in public schools has been lack of qualified teachers. Public school teachers (as well as homeschool parents) are struggling to come to grips with this technical subject. With the new STEM Education Act, public school teachers can now receive training in computer science through the National Science Foundation (NSF) and other federal programs.
State-Level Efforts to Broaden Computer Science Education
Individual states are also beginning to recognize shortcomings in computer science education and are taking steps on their own. For example, Arkansas has recently passed a law that says at least one computer science course must be offered in every high school. That doesn’t mean every student must *take* a computer science class as a core subject, but it must be *available* if a student wants to enroll as an elective.
New York City is running a Software Engineering Pilot Program to bring computer science education to more students. Recently they have unveiled a plan to bring these skills to ALL students, even elementary students, over a 10-year period! The Texas Center for STEM Education is leading a state-wide effort to improve computer science education. You can find examples of grassroots support for computer science in many other states, too.
Where Can Homeschoolers Turn for Help?
Clearly many state and federal organizations have recognized a long-term need for more computer science education and are beginning to take concrete steps. But where does this leave homeschool families? We don’t want our students left behind in this national trend.
You might cheerfully admit that your kids know more than you do about computers. So one great approach is to find a self-study course your students can use to learn computer science skills independently. Today, self-study courses from Homeschool Programming can guide your students step-by-step through the coding process with minimal teacher involvement.
The KidCoder and TeenCoder courses for 4th-12th grade students cover a variety of topics such as web design, introductory coding, video game programming, and smartphone app development. You can provide a quality Computer Science education for your homeschool student even if you’re not an expert yourself. Let’s spark a passion for Computer Science in your student today!
About the Author
Chris Yust has 17 years of experience as a software engineer and is co-author of the KidCoder and TeenCoder computer programming courses for 4th-12th grade students. Find out more about computer programming and website design for kids and teens at www.HomeschoolProgramming.com!