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C'est la Z

Is Computation Thinking a new idea or a new opportunity

Saw this earlier today.

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In a talk Mark gave last year, he also talked about "historical thinking" and other "thinkings."

This relates to something I've thought for a long time about CS and computational thinking in the early grades. Computational Thinking, whatever that actually is seems to be the route that CS is taking in the early grades. Young students aren't going to be coding up quicksorts and many elementary schools don't have the hardware resources needed anyway. Still, by approaching things through the CT lens maybe we can lay down a foundation for the future. Along the way, maybe some of these CT ideas can support students as they explore other subject areas.

This is all old ground for CT but what's this new opportunity?

Well, as it turns out, some of what we'd now consider computational thinking has been going on in elementary schools for years. It's been going on under the guise of "logic," "problem solving," and other headings. More often than not, teachers in better resourced schools where there there is less standardized test pressure, teachers can spend time on these. There are also CT concepts like pattern matching and abstraction that are present in elementary school lessons but not necessarily labeled as such.

Maybe computational thinking isn't all brand new. Maybe we're rebranding some ideas from other "thinkings." Problem solving and logic belong to many fields. This is all okay. All those other "thinkings" are in established fields. The way we do history, math, science, etc. in our schools is well established and it's left us, in many cases, with a tale of two cities. The haves and the have nots.

Now we have CS and CT and all the related buzz. Even if the CT we can do in elementary schools isn't new, even if it overlaps with historical thinking or the others, we now have a new opportunity to change up how we do things in the early grades and maybe we can reduce the distance between those have and have nots. Let's see if we can take advantage of this opportunity.

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