School and Tech From the Perspective of a High School Student

James Altucher tweeted to me during his Q&A on 10/15/15 after I asked him his thoughts on the school system. This is what he said.

I don’t think that he is in favor of the school system…

This is where technology needs to come in!

Generally, school and technology do not mix… Why?

The school and education system does not seem to change or adapt quickly. Because of this inability to keep up, it plays from behind when embracing and integrating technology into curricula. Teaching technology skills like computer science, computer programming, and computer engineering is essential in today’s fast paced, high-tech society. Unless schools begin to incorporate technology, programming courses, or maker spaces, students will have a delayed start on learning about these tools until they start college when this integration of tech only becomes slightly better.

Schools must start to embrace technology because no matter how you look at it, technology has embedded itself into every industry and every person’s daily life. In the U.S. only 2,100 high schools are certified to teach computer science-type courses. This is an insufficient number of schools and forces many students to learn basic coding skills on their own through online course sites like Codecademy and Treehouse. Although many students realize that learning these basic skills will be invaluable in any job they take up, many students either are not aware of the existence of computer science or just simply do not have the time to learn (and in high school with all of the schoolwork and extracurriculars many truly don’t have the time).

I want to address the first choice here: many are not aware of the existence of computer science. How do you live in today’s world without knowing what a single line of code looks like? Simply put: nobody tells them.

The first people that should tell and expose students to computer science should be schools. Not only is this the most direct way of exposing students to this ever-changing and powerful field, but the student is already in an environment to learn at school without sports or clubs distracting them. Schools need to take advantage of this and capitalize on this by taking this time to teach computer skills and STEM type classes. Even simply putting up a maker space which can be just a room with a couple computers and tablets (and if you are lucky 3D printers), can increase the interest in tech and be a good hands on way for students to learn.

a cool lookin’ maker space

There is a need for this. Once students become exposed to coding and engineering, they want to learn. At my high school, I helped start a computer science club which is evolving into a maker space. The first year nobody knew what we were doing so only six people came. This year, only the 2nd, 30–40 people come, with this number still growing. They come wanting to learn and wanting to create. Why did we need to start something like this outside of school? It should already be in schools.

Schools have to start embracing technology. App development, website development, and computer engineering have become too valuable of skills to not teach. If schools truly are trying to prepare students for the future, there is no way around it. It has to happen.

Check out Sir Ken Robinson’s great TED Talk about creativity in schools!

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