Read Stuck in the Shallow End: Education, Race, and Computing by Jane Margolis Free Online
Book Title: Stuck in the Shallow End: Education, Race, and Computing|
The author of the book: Jane Margolis
ISBN 13: 9780262135047
Edition: MIT Press (MA)
Date of issue: September 1st 2008
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 891 KB
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Reader ratings: 4.7
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Depressing, but necessary. This book really answers the question "Why are there no black people in CS? Even in the Bay Area?" And the answer is: even once you get past the terrible schools, broken computers, lack of teachers qualified to teach computer science, non-working computers and all the rest of it... no-one expects black kids to succeed. No-one IMAGINES black kids can succeed. And because of No Child Left Behind, everyone is aiming to the test, and to the bottom line.
This book should be required reading for every person who's ever mentioned meritocracy and meant it. It is frankly damning, and I had to wonder at the teachers who willingly walk into this situation with their eyes wide open.
Quotes! (Over 54 highlights, so I'll pick out the good ones):
"Just as swimming is a “white sport” with a severe underrepresentation of swimmers of color, computer science is a world that is associated with a narrow stratum of our population: at any technology fair, those in attendance, hovering around the latest gadgets or crowding around the newest video games, are likely to be white and Asian males. It is also a world riddled with assumptions and explanations about who does well: “boy wonders” who have gravitated toward computing since they were young, magnetically attracted to machines all through adolescence, brimming over with the “natural” talent that makes them “whiz” kids, part of “the best and the brightest” (Margolis and Fisher 2002).12 And because computers are presumed to be omnipresent—so anyone with an inclination would naturally be pursuing the field—people then conclude that the absence of African Americans, Latinos, and females within the field is a matter of “choice,” interest, or talent."
“You could have a really smart person who doesn’t have any money, or who has the potential to be really smart and all that, but because of lack of money they can’t get up to the same level as somebody else with the same IQ or whatever, just living in a richer neighborhood.”
"Even though the programming course at Canyon was significantly more developed than the course at East River, the curriculum was still textbook based, narrowly focused on syntax and following directions, and consisted of students reading a textbook about programming along with assignments that were based on copying programs outlined in the book."
"Carter, who later told us that she was worried about how the class would affect Janet’s overall GPA, pulled her aside and in a quiet but public conversation during class, suggested to Janet that she drop AP computer science, adding that she should not feel bad because some people just do not have “the aptitude” for this kind of study."
"The decision to enroll in these courses, when no other students of color are enrolled, requires an enormous amount of psychological risk."
"The story of the girls’ posse in AP computer science is particularly compelling because it points to the key role of social networks, and eventually critical mass, in shifting the dynamics of classroom environments and allowing all students to access a full range of resources as well as advantages as they prepare for their futures."
"Too often—particularly in subjects that are thought to be objective, like computer science—classroom practices can be disconnected from students’ lives, seemingly devoid of real-life relevance. Not only is it important for computer science teachers to show that there are computer scientists who “look like” their students, it is also vital that they communicate the fact that computer science is relevant. But computer science teachers have typically not had assistance or support in developing these types of approaches—approaches that allow them to demonstrate the significance of the subject matter to students and their communities—especially at the high school level, and this needs to change."
"But Ramirez’s critique of schooling conditions went far beyond the computer lab, as he described to us the existing challenges of providing quality core mathematics courses at his school. A glance at the state test results reveals a horrifying statistic: on the California standards test, only 1 percent of students scored at or above proficiency in mathematics at this school. With four mathematics courses and only one AP computer science course on his schedule, Ramirez felt unable to maintain the effort required to teach this AP computer science class in addition to his other teaching responsibilities. Given this, after much consideration he decided to commit his efforts toward overhauling and streamlining the mathematics course sequence at his school."
"Black and Hispanic children are being handed a stripped-down, debased curriculum. They are being trained to provide predictable answers and that provides a terrible danger for a democratic society. Principals, so terrified of No Child Left Behind and determined to pump up the scores, are restricting students’ learning to mechanistic skills in a narrow range of subjects. This does not equate to learning. And we see that, for all the obsessive drilling, any gains that supporters of No Child Left Behind claim are there are not being sustained."
"The implication was clear: the best and the brightest was largely incongruous with balanced representation among racial groups. In response to this admission, an African American computer science professor, who is both a highly regarded computer scientist and a mentor to many students of color, jumped to his feet to respond. In remarks that were heartfelt and angry, he asserted, “All this talk about ‘the best and the brightest’ makes me sick.”"
"In fact, this descriptor (or any other company-specific nomenclature that means the same thing) is one of those assumptions and part of the way that Silicon Valley, and almost every academic department or employer, wants to see itself. And this professor was quick to acknowledge that this is the case, saying that he himself wants to find the best students for his own department. But he noted that over and over again, he has seen how the measuring stick most commonly used to determine who is the best and the brightest is faulty, based on biased, imperfect measures; in his view, tests like the SAT are self-fulfilling instruments created by the very “types” of people who will benefit from them. By following his own students’ careers, he has witnessed how SAT test scores and other standardized testing, the normal standards of merit, do not accurately measure who will excel as a student or on the job."
"After you have watched the presentation, it is hard to get out of your mind the plaintive voice of a Black male from the city school as he talks about wanting to enroll in an honors algebra class and twice being closed out because of limited space. His comment is positioned alongside that of a suburban White student who, in her privileged environment, rattles off quickly—as if to suggest that so much is available that she might miss something if she goes slowly—the range and diversity of course offerings, in addition to numerous honors and AP classes in virtually all content areas."
"Over the years, I have developed an extreme dislike for the expression “the best and the brightest,” so the authors’ discussion of it in the concluding chapter particularly resonated with me. I have seen extremely talented and creative underrepresented minority undergraduate students aggressively excluded from this distinction. In high school I was one of the “best and the brightest,” but my teachers, counselors, and administrators never recognized it. I did not fit their idea of the model student, and being of Mexican descent certainly did not help. But I maintain that I am not that unusual, and there are many underrepresented minorities out there with similar or more creativity who could follow the same path if given the opportunities."
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