Why haven’t more US kids been interested in learning CS?

literacyI have been giving this question some thought as I have been having fun with Hour of Code drawing and animation on Khan Academy as well as starting with the very beginning of html coding at Codecademy.

I had been teaching Web Design and Development college courses for a while when, in about 2005, students began dropping out of what had been a very popular introductory course that involved typing html and css into a text editor and then viewing the results in a browser.  When I asked a student why she was dropping, she answered angrily, “You are using very stupid, old software that expects me to be able to type everything in perfectly.  I much prefer to use facebook for creating webpages.”  I was left speechless.  After completing a couple of introductory courses, she would have been able to enroll in my Adobe  Dreamweaver class (where she would have discovered that really understanding html and css makes it much easier to repair a broken webpage when things go wrong).

At that time we actually had students who were in danger of flunking out because they could not tear themselves away from facebook long enough to go to class or complete assignments.  Strangely enough, many faculty members considered these facebook experts to be the most accomplished techies on campus!  We Dreamweaver/Fireworks enthusiasts were so old fashioned!

Just a couple of years earlier we had had lots of students laboring away in the computer lab to get their first webpages just the way they wanted.  This was always a very friendly, collaborative effort where help was freely given and received. A foreign student once told me that what she liked the most about taking my courses was the “happy! time” when finally everything works.  I hope we are coming full circle and again this will be seen as easy and fun, even though tedious at times – just like needlework and similar skills.

Come on kids – we need you to start weaving some webpages right away! You will love it!  And then you can move on to creating apps and games — and lots more fun stuff.