CS, woodshop for intellectuals

I attended the Montana Tech Summit Monday.  Very interesting.  I have never seen so many millionaires in one room.  A Montana US Senator was running the show and the Montana US Congressman (we can only afford one) was one of the panelists.  It was not an event for teachers, it was for entrepreneurs and tech companies but there was enough there to get me thinking about my CS curriculum.  There was a number of interesting panel discussions with some threads that would apply to a high school CS teacher.  I got two big threads.  The first was the extreme shortage of tech proficient job applicants.  They cannot find enough employees anywhere that are willing to learn the skills they were offering.  These companies were not after people already trained, but after people who were trainable.  They were not after high tech skills, they were after people with the basics they could train up.  They were all offering excellent starting salaries but the people were just not there.  The second thread was they wanted people with writing skills.  That is sort of a no brainer but to have these tech companies actually say it surprised me.  They understand the importance of good communication.

This is not going to make me run out and start trying to produce professional coders out of high school but it does make me think about maybe trying to make my school’s technology requirements a bit more directed towards programming and networking.  We require two semesters of technology but if a kid takes the apps course and then the library research class they will never see coding, programming or basic hardware.  Would this be like requiring woodshop?  Sure, but why not if a basic woodshop class would open up a really large job market for the kids?  “CS, woodshop for intellectuals.”  I kind of like it.

Yes, this would be catering to the pressures of industry but maybe a little of that would not hurt.  After hearing from these high tech companies and the long-term futures they have to offer employees I need to consider the possibilities.  Somehow get more kids looking at tech majors in college.

One solution I am thinking of involves internships.  Last summer six students from my school, sophomores and juniors, did an internship with a local tech company partially owned by an alum.  Only one of the six was a techie geek.  They came back with major attitude changes in regards to what a “tech” company needs in the way of employees.  I am hoping the word may spread.  After the summit was over a number of the tech companies at the event set up tables.  I hit the lines.  I talked to four companies about high school interns.  In all four cases it was “Hum, never thought about it.  Here is my number.  Call me and let’s see what we can get set up”.  I think once kids see that a tech job does not mean becoming a code gnome in a dark room eating Cheetos in from of a computer monitor for life, interest might pick up.

Arggg, no rest for the wicked.



One Response to “CS, woodshop for intellectuals”

  1. Mrs.Pollard Says:

    High school internships is a great idea.

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