Thanks for the mumble mumbles. That’s exactly what writing for the web feels like sometimes :)

I appreciate the tool perspective you bring to the ideas. Whether it’s a general purpose platform or an ecosystem of little DSLs (which is what we actually have right now in the world), I’m sure there are endless examples of how children might engaging with computing across a range of domains. Some of these are explicitly funded by NSF now (see STEM+C), and some are purely bottom-up, through thousands of teachers finding creative integrations. It’s been exciting to be part of a mixed community of researchers, teachers, and policymakers trying to foster these integrations in a multi/cross/inter-disciplinary, where research is just a tiny piece of a larger effort.

I still can’t help but get caught up on teachers. I spend a lot of time with teachers; my mom was a 5th grade teacher for four decades, and I watched her work at school and at home my whole childhood. I have friends and family members that teach. And I engage with my daughter’s teachers regularly. What the pragmatist in me always finds so striking is just how rare great teaching (of any kind, any paradigm) is. If we can’t prepare excellent teachers at scale, it feels like it doesn’t really matter what kind of tools we make available. It’s like handing high-end 64 core workstation to a toddler: they won’t know how to harness its powers and will probably just break it.

I don’t mean to sound so paternalistic about teachers and teacher training. I am a teacher after all, and I constantly feel like I’m failing. I just feel that the impact of any tool or even any theory of learning is utterly constrained by the need for guidance and mentorship in learning, and therefore the challenge of preparing great teachers and mentors. I want and need every child to thrive, not just those with an outsized level of curiosity or social encouragement.

Professor of programming + learning + design + justice at the University of Washington Information School. Trans; she/her. #BlackLivesMatter.

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