It starts with a photo of Dr. John Halamka, the CIO at Harvard Medical School, with yes, the geekiest of childhood photos.
"Dr. Halamka grew up to be something of a cool nerd, with a career that combines his deep interests in medicine and computing, and downtime that involves rock climbing and kayaking.
Now 47, Dr. Halamka is the chief information officer at the Harvard Medical School, a practicing emergency-ward physician and an adviser to the Obama administration on electronic health records."
It also highlights a graduate student from the UW Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Kira Lehtomaki, who nows works for Disney Animation.
The issue is one that I find true for a lot of students; they simply don't know the diversity of work out there. I have told kids this (based on my own work experience) by holding up a book. I tell them that someone designed the cover of the book - picked the photo/drawing, picked the font and its size and placement, etc., that someone edited the book, that if it's a text book or technical book, someone designed the graphs. Meaning, there are many jobs that are not entirely visible to students and they need to know that there is a lot more out there than doctor, firefighter, lawyer (or rap star or athlete).
From the article:
"Educators and technologists say two things need to change: the image of computing work, and computer science education in high schools.
Today, introductory courses in computer science are too often focused merely on teaching students to use software like word processing and spreadsheet programs, said Janice C. Cuny, a program director at the National Science Foundation. The Advanced Placement curriculum, she added, concentrates narrowly on programming. “We’re not showing and teaching kids the magic of computing,” Ms. Cuny said.
The agency is working to change this by developing a new introductory high school course and seeking to overhaul Advanced Placement courses as well. It hopes to train 10,000 high school teachers in the modernized courses by 2015.
One goal, Ms. Cuny and others say, is to explain the steady march and broad reach of computing across the sciences, industries, culture and society. Yes, they say, the computing tools young people see and use every day — e-mail, text-messaging and Facebook — are part of the story. But so are the advances in field after field that are made possible by computing, like gene-sequencing that unlocks the mysteries of life and simulations that model climate change."
Ms. Lehtomaki explains how her degree helps her:
"Her computer science education, she said, is an asset every day in her work, less for technical skills than for what she learned about analytic thinking.
“Computer science taught me how to think about things, how to break down and solve complex problems,” Ms. Lehtomaki said.
Reformulating a seemingly difficult problem into something a person can know how to solve is “computational thinking,” which the new high school courses are intended to nurture. Some schools in Los Angeles County are experimenting with the introductory course, called “Exploring Computer Science,” including South East High School in South Gate, Calif. Last year, 35 students were in a pilot program, and this year the course is being taken by 130 students."
Robert Teich, a professor at UC, Berkeley, chimes in:
"Most new jobs in the modern economy will be heavily influenced by technology, said Robert Reich, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and former labor secretary in the Clinton administration. And they will require education beyond high school, though often two years or less.
These workers, he said, will be needed in large numbers to install, service, upgrade and use computer technology in sectors like energy and health care.
“These are jobs for what I think of as digital technicians,” Mr. Reich said. “And they are at the core of the new middle-wage middle class.”
This all ties into the idea of the STEM program at Cleveland. It should encompass the idea of how STEM ties to jobs. Kids need to know how they will, hands on, use this knowledge and what jobs there are out there that need that knowledge.
(That said, I still have grave doubts about the STEM program, mostly around funding. I am hearing of some rumblings of needing about pushback on the program to some degree given the state of the district's budget. It's frustrating because it is difficult to know with any degree of certainty what the Board and the district will decide to do until they roll out the program.)