I’ve been having conversations with various students about learning Scratch. I find it really helpful just to ask for honest answers, and I love that most 8th graders will actually be honest. The main answer I get about learning Scratch is that students find it too hard. It’s too much work, they say, to get any good results. Or it’s too tedious. I find this interesting because they’ll do math and science that’s also pretty hard.
It’s a possibility, of course, that I’m the problem. It’s also probably a contributing factor that this course isn’t an academic one and only meets once a week. The first thing I might be able to work on. The second is out of my control.
Reports abound that CS is a great field economically. Yet, it’s not filled with women. It’s also not gaining too much traction in high schools. We keep telling people that CS is “good for you” but people aren’t engaging. Is Scratch like putting ice cream on brussell sprouts? Or worse, maybe it is brussell sprouts. If that’s true, I’m not sure how to fix that. Look at what’s going on with nutrition these days. Eat your vegetables has been a mantra for years and yet, our obesity problem increases.
Teachers and companies are trying to make CS fun. Gaming, graphics, the Kinect, robotics, e-textiles have all been put forward as ways to increase CS interest and enrollment. Maybe it’s going to take a while for all that to have an effect. I know my Upper Schoolers are pretty engaged, even as we get to more difficult concepts, so maybe it’s just 8th grade. Maybe I need to engage them with something other than Scratch.