It’s Computer Science Education Week. My social media feed is filled with amazing things happening in classrooms around the globe. It’s filled with ideas, resources and endless opportunities for educators to network with one another and add to their teacher toolbox. It’s filled with facts and figures about computer science, and why it’s important for our students and their future. It’s also filled with statistics. Statistics about girls and STEM, female representation in computer science, and a call to action to show our girls that not only can they pursue opportunities in this field, but that they in fact belong there.
A few years ago, the shyest, kindest and most compassionate little girl walked through my door. She loved to draw, create and write stories. She loved to follow the rules, and she did. What she didn’t love was technology. She’d bring a box of crayons and a pile of paper to the computer lab every week. She’d push buttons on an iPad only because I asked her too. I hadn’t yet convinced her to step outside her comfort zone, but I wasn’t ready to quit. The day I brought two little robots into the classroom was the day that changed everything for her. She learned to code. She learned to persevere. She became a problem-solver. She became a risk-taker. She began to question things for the benefit of her own learning. She asked the important whys and hows. She didn’t wait for an answer anymore…she started finding them on her own. In fact, that quiet and shy, never stepped out line 7-year-old, became the kid who stood in front of an auditorium of 200+ giving her own talk about the importance of coding and robotics and how it made her feel smart and how she learned that it was okay to make mistakes, because you could just try again – her words. She found her passion.
This post is my call to action. This is not my first piece about girls and technology, and it won’t be my last. As educators, we have an obligation to show our girls a world beyond what they think is possible. We need to put computers and robots in their hands. We need to encourage them to wonder and explore. I am not proposing we build an army of girl coders – though that would be pretty epic – I’m simply saying that it is our responsibility as educators to give them experiences and opportunities to step outside their comfort zone and take those risks that allow them to discover their passion. That passion may just be computer science. Innovation requires perspective and perspective requires diversity.