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The Peacock Dances

By Ron Martorelli

January poses two challenges for high school computer science programs.

For many high school sophomores and juniors, January can mean scheduling decisions for next year. It does in my school and the schools in my area. Since most computer science courses are electives, we are battling other disciplines for the attention of these students, and are engaged in a sort of ritual dance where we try convince them to sign up for our courses. It reminds me of the peacocks dance with all the fancy feathers. We go up against all sorts of AP and college credit courses, fun courses they would like to take to lighten their academic load, performing arts courses that permit them to continue their after school music ambitions during the school day, and, of course, athletics and sports commitments.

How do we compete? If we emphasize the importance of CS to their future, focus too much on the technology, or point out how it can help them in college and careers, we risk being too geeky and turn off potential suitors. On the other hand, if we go to flashing and sexy, with too much emphasis on video game design or graphics, we risk diluting the importance of the courses, and we risk alienating administrators who think we are teaching students video games.

And, by the way, how do we get girls to enroll?

The second challenge we face is preparing our curriculum needs for next year. Curriculum must be proposed, approved, and designed in detail. Text books, software, and hardware all need to be evaluated and possibly updated. We will need to consider what our freshmen students will have learned in elementary school and middle school (it changes every year) so that our entry level courses can be adjusted to their incoming technology skills. Oh, and there is a little thing called a budget that we have to factor in because software and hardware is expensive.

Please forward your ideas on both challenges to me! I will happily compile suggestions to share.

Ron Martorelli
CSTA Board of Directors


Would be great to use your experience it in Italy.

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