Parents and students often ask us why we do what we do. I always appreciate someone’s curiosity, and in this case, it’s a welcomed opportunity to not only explain ‘our why’ but to help inform about the rather dire STEM education gap that needs to be filled.
Understanding ‘our why’ begins by understanding that literally everything we do in our lives requires the use of some sort of technology…it is all around us…from the timing of the traffic lights, the air pressure sensor on my car, to my home scale that texts me if my weight fluctuates outside of pre-defined parameters…tech is all around us.
The root challenge is that technology changes…constantly…and our education system can’t keep pace with the change. This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone…it’s just a fact, and nor should we expect it to keep pace. But is highlights the problem when it comes to teaching our young people outdated tech, because by the time the new curriculum passes through the gauntlet of approvals and teacher development programs; tech has moved forward that much more. The point is that we can’t strictly rely on our school system to adequately prepare our students for a future in technology – the school system needs to focus on what they are good at, which is preparing a student to be a lifelong learner.
That said, for the student who wants to learn real technology using current and relevant practices – students will need to go to specialized facilities designed for this purpose, like Silicon STEM, and a few other learning services providers across the nation.
But back to the question, why. There’s no single reason actually. Our why has to do with a bunch of reasons, not the least of which is that the US will be 1,000,000 programmers short by 2020…yes, 1,000,000. Consider that other developed countries like India and China produce 1,000,000 programmers a year, and the US produces about 35,000 through our higher education system. In Colorado, according to code.org, we graduated 785 CS grads last year in our state.
Our why is simple…we need to!