Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Post That Almost Didn't Get Written

So it seems a little weird to be writing a post about curriculum development on the anniversary of 9/11. I am thinking that in the greater scheme of things the AP exams are so...not important. And yes, that is true, they are not.

But ... There has been heavy media coverage about the rise of religious and racial prejudice. And recently (as I posted in Facebook) someone called me (in an intended to be nasty way) a "socialist" for suggesting to a third person that there was a historical reason why social safety net programs were put in place in the United States in the 1930s. Name calling is a traditional, old as history, method to intimidate someone and try to shut them up. There seems to be way too much ignorance. So I am writing a post today. Because today is *not* the day to separate my profession from bigger global issues.

One of my goals in life, professionally and personally, is to make the world a better place. That isn't news - I put it in my Blog Header. Thus I work to infuse social issues into curriculum development. In an academically sound and defensible way that aligns with content and standards goals.

The anniversary of 9/11 reminds me of a lot - including how important it is for those of us who teach to not silo off our content and ignore the world around us. What good is being the slickest programmer on earth if you have no clue what is going on in the world and how your code (whatever it is) affects it? What good is it to be able to develop the most sophisticated architectural designs if you have not thought about the different ways that they can potentially be used? I'm not saying don't code; don't design. I'm saying: think about the bigger picture too.

This is all about not sticking our heads in the sand. The next time someone infers (or out right states) that social issues are separate or secondary to technical academic content, I hope that whoever they say it to reminds them that it is technology, computing technology, that underlies almost every mode of transport (subways, airplanes, cars) we depend upon. Generally, these are good items, but as we painfully know, each can be compromised. And I just picked on transportation, because of what today is and what it makes me think of.

So what do we do? That is the point - we need to talk about it as part of our courses. And not just on the anniversary of a terrible event. So that each person can become more informed and then develop their own awareness and make professional decisions with that breadth of knowledge.

Computing can be used to help overcome barriers to communication between cultures, and to keep people informed about what is really going on in the world so that they don't have to rely upon anecdote and name calling.

Enough said.

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