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Teachers, legislators and school administrators discuss more implementation of computer science curriculum in schools

Published: Sep. 21, 2021 at 6:40 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - There aren’t many jobs that don’t rely on computers.

Teaching how they work has become a priority for North Dakota educators, and they joined Tuesday with technology experts to get the message across.

At the North Dakota Cognia School Improvement Conference, teachers learned why implementing computer science curriculum into education is important for N.D. schools.

“When we talk about computer science as foundational, it’s not our goal to create computer programmers or app developers, it’s our goal to help our youngest of learners understand how the internet works and how computer science works,” said State School Superintendent Kirsten Baesler.

Hadi Partovi, the keynote presenter and CEO of Code.org, a computer science nonprofit, says more than 93% of North Dakota families want computer science taught at all levels of school, but only 47% of the state schools are providing computer science instruction.

“The teachers, they struggle each day in the classroom trying to explain to the student who ask, ‘why I am learning this,’ ‘why am I memorizing this,’ and it’s harder and harder to answer those questions. Whereas with computer science, that’s not hard. The students never ask, ‘why am I learning to make an app,’” said Partovi.

Partovi says ND is uniquely poised to add the subject to the curriculum for several reasons, one being the state’s good broadband structure. But he says the biggest reason why more schools aren’t teaching computer science is because of inertia.

“There’s nobody out there saying we shouldn’t teach computer science to our kids. There’s no opposition saying that this is bad, but inertia means people want to do things the way we’ve always done them, and that is so true in schools. Which is why schools are still teaching the curriculum of 200 years ago,” said Partovi.

The state superintendent says more than 2,500 teachers have received a computer science credential on top of their teacher license within the last two years and they are hoping this discussion sparks more interest.

The discussion included teachers, legislators, administrators and cyber experts.

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