I flew down to San Diego last night to participate in the Statewide Information Communication Technologies (ICT) Industry Advisory Committee. It helped me to remember how important ICT education is. We had a great group of folks at the meeting, with a lot of passion and experience in supporting the students of California to becoming our next generation of “computer nerds”.
But it also brought back to me, about how our education system isn’t keeping up and changing for the needs of our next generation. Technology is our future, and of any industry sector (other than potentially energy), it is the use or abuse of technology will make the biggest difference to the future of human kind. And educational content standards, and the related curriculum, can either be what will give our students the knowledge that will be needed when they graduate; or force irrelevant content on them, leading to more disillusion with our education system; and at the same time lead to more unemployment.
One of the first things we can do is to truly update our Math standards. Common Core has made some improvements, by having more emphasis on statistics than what many math curricula previously had…. But there is still a lot of content learned that is not relevant to most people/jobs. For example, Common Core requires students to know imaginary numbers (aka complex numbers). But there is a reason why they are called “imaginary”…. And I have yet to see where someone use these in their job. (And for those who do, they could learn these in college and be none the worse!) But Common Core does not even mention “binary” nor “hexadecimal” nor “Boolean” (in fact “logic” only appears briefly in 3 standards!) These are concepts used in all aspects of technology, that are far more relevant to every student than imaginary/complex numbers.
But maybe there is a chance of some change, in California at least. California is working on new Computer Science standards… If California categorizes these as math standards, and allow students to take a computer science course in place of Algebra I, as a graduation requirement… Then we might have a chance of having relevant math as an option in our schools; and have better prepared students for the jobs of the future. (Actually, these are the jobs of today!!!)