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Comment: A shallow article (Score 1) 245

by Fisics (#1706207) Attached to: Pure Science Becoming Less Popular Than CS
I was reading that article yesterday and I was just disgusted by one of the quotes in it. The Executive director of The National Science Teachers Association was quoted saying, "Computer science courses teach skills and techniques, but they don't teach critical thinking the way physics does."

I was extremely angered by his quote, so I quickly looked up their website and my e-mail with response is below (my e-mail is below his response naturally).

Benjamin,

That's for your thoughts. I agree with your assessment of the kind of thinking associated with computer programming. I'll have to get the article and read it. My thought at the moment I was talking to the reporter was based on some of the high school computer courses I had seen over the past decade and, in those classes, there was much less critical thinking going on. You're right, my "image" was more the basic applications courses.

My point is that there is something fundamentally different between a high school science course and a computer science course in terms of preparing a
student to deal with today's issues. I goofed in my response. Thanks for taking the time to bringing it to my attention.

Gerry Wheeler


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Benjamin Tatterson [mailto:ben1@psu.edu]
> Sent: Thursday, September 02, 1999 9:39 PM
> To: gwheeler@nsta.org
> Subject: New York Times Quote
>
>
> Dear Mr. Wheeler,
>
> Today, I read your quote in the New York Times, "Computer science courses teach skills and techniques, but they don't teach critical thinking the way physics does." I am a former computer science major at Penn State and I hold heartedly disagree with your statement. Writing a computer program is much like answering a physics problem. In each, there are inputs, and you must determine an output using a formula/algorithm. The amount of critical thinking that is required in a computer science programming course is equivalent to a physics course. Using the C++ programming language, is neither a skill nor a technique, it is applied math. Maybe your statement is true when compared to a basic applications course but when compared to an introductory level college computer science course, your statement is false.
> Please respond.
>
> Thank you,
>
> Benjamin Tatterson
> ben1@psu.edu
>

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