Computational thinking — but where’s the beef?

Do we believe what the Wolfram Blog says about computational thinking? Maybe.

I’m suspicious of the very title of the post: The Computational Classroom: Easy Ways to Introduce Computational Thinking into Your Lessons. Anything that promises “easy ways” is automatically suspect, as it calls to mind Euclid’s famous remark:

You may know this better as “There is no royal road to geometry,” which was supposedly Euclid’s response when King Ptolemy I Soter  was frustrated by the difficulties of learning geometry and asked for an easier way to do it.

Anyway, read the Wolfram post in the link above. Some of it seems like an ad for Mathematica and the Wolfram Language, but much of it contains some good ideas, albeit familiar ones. The post promises a lot:

While computational thinking most often relates to coding (unsurprising given its connection to computer science), it’s really a way of looking at problems. This means that computational thinking can be introduced into all sorts of classrooms—not just in STEM classes, but in art and music classes, and even in physical education.

That’s nice, but it’s thin on details. The post hits plenty of buzzwords — growth mindset, pattern recognition, transferrable skills, deconstruction, fear of failure, emphasizing process over perfection, community efforts, metacognition, digital citizenship — but where’s the beef?

Categories: Math, Teaching & Learning