Today we had guest speakers Mary Davison and Andy Davidson from the Seattle Public School District come in to talk about their experiences of getting Computer Science into the school curriculum. Mary Davison is the head of the Seattle Public Schools Current Technological Education(CTE) curriculum and has worked for 4 years now on this program. Computer Science has been classified into the CTE curriculum, because it doesn’t fit with any other fields currently. However, as we discussed in class, we could incorporate Computer Science into a variety of other fields such as Math or Science . The small curriculum that started from Ingraham and Chief Stealth, has spread to 5 schools including:
- Ingraham(still going strong)
- Garfield(where Helene previously taught)
- Roosevelt(where our other guest speaker, Andy Davidson, teaches)
- Nathan Hale(where they have the “robotics” lab in science class using Lego Mindstorms and other CS courses)
- Cleveland(where they recently changed into a Biotech/Engineering school)
The CTE curriculum is also used in Eckstein Middle School and is planning to be added to the Ballard High School curriculum in the coming year.
Our guest speakers also touched on many of the difficulties that occur when trying to add a new curriculum to a school. The most important part is the principal, the change to the school curriculum will depend on if the principal is willing to embrace it or not. Several rules can be made from higher authority, but the principals of each school have the final say on how these rules will be implemented and taught to the students. Volunteers like ourselves can help students get exposure to potential role models but as teacher Andy Davidson pointed out: “The only way you can really make an impact on the students is if you’re there with them everyday, not one hour a week.” This way you can do both parts of teaching:
- half on inspiring learning and getting students to love the material (role model)
- other half on teaching the concepts and topics that interest the students
Goals for Computer Science education and the Seattle Public Schools in the future are to get the CTE curriculum into all their high schools and middle schools and make sure that all students are “career and college ready”.