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CSTA is Looking Beyond the US

CSTA has as its main objective "to support and promote the teaching of computer science and other computing disciplines. CSTA provides opportunities for K-12 teachers and students to better understand the computing disciplines and to more successfully prepare themselves to teach and learn."

Approximately 80% of its membership resides in the USA. So naturally most of its endeavors and communications are US-centric. However, the recent international version of the New Educational Imperative reflects the outward looking nature of CSTA.

My motivation in joining in CSTA originally arose from the poor state and recognition of CS as a valid high school subject in my country (eg: ignored by the national assessment system!). I was looking for affirmation of it as something worthy of study in high school and also to find resources, as well as hopefully making contact with some "like minds".

Now, as the International Representative but also a high school teacher, it is not easy to form a comprehensive picture of what "the rest of the world" does. I am fortunate to be involved in the Olympiad in Informatics community, and through that have some vague picture of what is happening in Computer Science teaching in a some other countries. However, most leaders at the Olympiad are University lecturers and are not necessarily the best spokespeople for what is happening in the lower echelons of the education system! It is somewhat disheartening to hear from some of the high school teacher-leaders at the IOI that, like my own, their country has in the past addressed algorithmic thinking but have now moved to an emphasis purely on "skills based" (or ICT) teaching - and what CS teaching that does happen is "shrinking".

On the other hand, there are "heartening countries' such as Lithuania, the same sized country as mine, which introduces algorithmic thinking to quite young students and countries like Croatia where there are gymnasiums (academic high schools) which specialize in Science, Maths and Informatics. Refer http://eurologo.web.elte.hu/lectures/dagien.htm and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education_in_Croatia

For small countries, one of the things which helps in advocacy, is to be able to demonstrate that other countries with similar or smaller GDPs per head of population, are doing great things.

Whilst blogs are usually the opportunity to present a viewpoint, I would like to use this entry to potentially elicit informatio on "What does your country do?" And not to be exclusive to International members, it may be of interest to others in the US, "What does your school/school district/state do?"

Margot Phillipps
CSTA International Director

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