Apprenticeship is a system in which workers train on-the-job – earning wages and doing productive work – while also taking courses. When someone completes an apprenticeship, they’ll have valuable work experience and a recognized industry credential that allows them to continue in the field and advance their career over time.
Dr. Esther Wojcicki in a conversation with the largest school district in Palo Alto remarked that it can be very difficult to get experienced computer scientists/software engineers as public-school teachers for several reasons. Semi-supervised moonshot schools can solve this wicked problem. More than just disrupting engineering education, Moonshots believes that the opportunity for quality education should be open to all people regardless of their background, schooling, or demographics. Woj put together a design and discovery team to investigate the future of work.
Some of the reasons include:
1. Salaries: The PAUSD and most other districts cannot offer salaries to meet the market demand for the skills they require. This is because union contracts require that salaries be based on a combination of years of experience and course/professional development credits. “Merit pay” and differential pay for different skills is generally not possible. [I might note that research has consistently shown that seniority and extra credits are not correlated to quality of instruction at least after the first few years.]
2. “Certification” barriers to entry: Public-school teachers must have teaching certificates. This can take several years of effort and expense to obtain. Private schools generally are able to hire people who do not have certificates. This puts them at an advantage for obtaining people who have serious industry experience in fields like robotics, artificial intelligence, and software engineering. So we get people who have had a few courses and no real experience.
There are probably many excellent software engineers in Silicon Valley who would llke to teach but are discouraged by the lack of merit pay and the need for certification. I have met a number who found jobs at private schools that were able to appreciate their experience.
I have always been a strong supporter of labor unions but they have some downsides to be certain. Protectionist policies are among them.
What most employers want, Woj says, are written communication, oral communication, team-building, and leadership skills. Never mind that salaries for coders (a median $103,560 in the U.S. in 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics) indicate that it’s technical chops that are valued right now. Soft skills have staying power.
“As powerful as AI will ultimately become and is becoming, we’re still a ways away from computers being able to replicate and replace human interaction and human touch,” Woj said at a forum on the future of work. “So there’s a wonderful incentive for people to develop these skills because those jobs are going to be more stable for a longer period of time.”
Wired editor in chief Nicholas Thompson agrees that jobs involving social interaction and social skills will be most protected in our automated future. ”I think we overrate coding and engineering as a long-term profession,” he told us at the Oct. 12 event, which was held at Wired’s San Francisco headquarters. “It’s something that machines powered by artificial intelligence will be really good at.”
Right now, interest in coding is still growing.
Putting Kids First
Our education system was built from the very beginning on adult needs and adult priorities. Whether it was Jefferson’s goal: “By this means twenty of the best geniuses will be raked from the rubbish annually, and be instructed at the public expense;” or Woodrow Wilson’s goal, “ We want one class of persons to have a liberal education, and we want another class of persons, a very much larger class, of necessity… to forego the privileges of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks…They must make a selection, and you must make a selection…;” or Ellwood Cubberly’s goal: [schools need to be] “factories in which the raw materials (children) are to be shaped and fashioned into products to meet the various demands of life. The specifications for manufacturing come from the demands of twentieth century civilization, and it is the business of the school to build its pupils according to the specifications laid down;” or even the Eisenhower administration’s goal — an education modeled after the post-Stalin Soviet Union.
Future of School
But what might school look like if we were helping kids to build their future society, a better society, a better world? If that was our goal would we do anything that we do now? Would we build boxes around kids, around curricula, around age groups, around time? Would we design a secondary school without observing and asking current five-year-olds? Would we make it difficult to go outside? Would we make sitting still a virtue? Would we accept the idea that we would prefer to “harden” learning spaces for children rather than take away weapons designed for only one task — murder?
What Do You Want Your Children to Be?
It is that question that needs to define everything about what a school is. If you want your children to be creative, to be collaborators, to be great communicators, to know how to make choices, to know how to build their own work and/or learning environments, to be kind, to be curious, to learn throughout their lives from the great wide world, to engage with technology well, to build healthy relationships and lead healthy lives then can you really do that within the closed boundaries of traditional schools? Can you do that with age-separated learning? With closed classroom doors? With separated subject areas? Without seating choices? Without technology choices? Without culturally engaged learning groups?
Can you do that with bells ringing telling kids to stop what they are thinking about and move on to another subject? Can you do that when you artificially divide kids, whether via reading “levels,” or with honor rolls, or with one or two student activities honored above the rest?
What — from space, to rules, to time schedules, to how and where lunch is eaten, to what voice a teacher uses, to where the teacher desk is, or if there is a teacher desk, to homework attitudes, to whether kids can personalize computers — creates the school that is most likely to yield the learning our kids need?
The Teacher’s Role in World 2.0
Duke finds a neuroscience basis that learners “choose” a specific type of tutor/teacher to learn from and skillful blended learning as described in moonshots is the only way to activate the dopamine pathway for learning to occur in a traditional learning environment. If learners don’t meet a suitable teacher earlier, they grow up to sing songs that are much simpler than those they might learn from a tutor.
Duke University recently published in Nature that the type of teacher that a student is exposed to plays a fundamental role in shaping the neuroanatomy, neurophysiology and neuropharmacology of their brain. In fact, if learners do not connect with their teacher they will be significantly disadvantaged as the learner won’t be able to exercise creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration effectively compared to their peers.
Scientists have known for decades that some birds have a sensitive period for song learning. If juveniles don’t meet a suitable tutor before a certain age, they grow up to sing songs that are much simpler than those they might learn from a tutor (guide on the side). Notably, these simple songs are much less attractive putting the unschooled bird at a serious disadvantage.
Richard Mooney, professor of neurobiology at Duke reported that “in humans it’s clear that being able to learn species-specific behaviors like speech is really important” and that “Birdsong is one of the very few examples in the animal world where a behavior is transmitted from one generation to the next by imitation as opposed to genetic inheritance.” The fact that birds learn “speech” as we do gives researchers the opportunity to use the animals to study how a young learner memorizes someone else’s actions and then eventually learns to imitate those actions.
Choosing a Teacher
The question that the world is faced with today on whether virtual and robotic teaching agents like Jibo could replace teachers in the future is beginning to be uncovered by Duke University. Moonshot fellows conducted research on both Virtual Reality as well as interacted the social robot Jibo for an entire semester to investigate if students would choose Jibo or their moonshot teacher under a variety of circumstances.
In the Journal Nature, Duke revealed that the teachers role was also that of mentor and proximity to the learner without taking centerstage activated connections between the social area of the student’s brain and the part responsible for making meaning of what the teacher was saying.
When Duke researchers prevented the PAG brain region from communicating with the song cortex during the sensitive period, the juvenile bird grew up to sing very simple songs, as if it had never heard any tutor at all. But blocking this pathway just after a learners; daily session with a tutor did not affect its ability to copy the older finch’s song. When the research team activated the dopamine-releasing PAG region while playing adult male zebra finch songs through a speaker, juvenile birds copied the song, even though there wasn’t a real bird there.
All students must be given the opportunity to learn MEDIA
In this digital era, where students now have access to technology. Teachers must now take on the role of master coach. Young people are naturally curious and when given the space that fosters trust, respect, independence and collaboration, their intellectual vitality is amplified. Teachers must provide mentorship and leverage access to technology to personalize the student experience. Rather than being a sage on stage, teachers should adapt to being a guide on the side. This is what Moonshots in Education is about. Rather than focusing on just STEAM we should add Media to that and make it STEAMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics and MEDIA).
Media fosters Creative Freedom
With the advent of Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality media, it is important to look at elements of game design that inspire students to engage in gaming. Media is at the heart of human centered design today and if we are to design learning experiences that prepare youth for the future, we must include media in the curriculum.
Currently, teachers are not in charge of their classes and there is a need to involve policy makers such as school boards to integrate the 20% moonshot time for passion projects. This has worked for Google and most innovative corporations. Launching blended learning in the classroom requires students to design solutions. and Most students now having access to Google Chromebooks in their classroom as well as smart phones and instead of just being consumers of information, they also become creators of content.
Project Based learning inspires passion in students
With an evolving marketplace and innovation space, Dr. Esther Wojcicki suggests that the digital era and 4th industrial revolution requires more than a degree. Instead, academic and corporations should create toolkits that measure skills necessary to meet current and future needs of the workforce. She calls those tools TRICK. Currently, moonshots has a consortium that is working on creating an Ai enabled Mastery Transcript to replace the industrial era Carnegie Units grading process. Employers agree.
Embracing Computer Science
The home to Silicon Valley, California is having a Computer Science Education moment. Thanks to the efforts of all the computer science advocates, momentum is clearly growing. And now that California has recommendations for scaling computer science and has Computer Science Standards that provide guidance, I’m betting that California’s next state education policy leaders will be eager to support districts and charter schools to ensure all California’s K-12 students begin to have access to quality computer science opportunities.
Computer science is the study of how technology and computing systems are created, with opportunities over the grade spans for students to collaborate to create their own applications and develop complex data files. California’s new standards cover six core computer science concepts (such as algorithms and programming) and seven core practices (such as creating computational artifacts and recognizing computational problems). They also encourage student critical thinking and discussion about the broader ethical and social implications and questions related to the growing capabilities of technology in society.
The study of computer science will enable California’s students to better understand how the digital world they are growing up in is made and how it works, for example:
How does the Internet work? How does Netflix use computing algorithms to determine what new shows I might like based on what shows I’ve been watching? How does my Facebook page know what online shopping I’ve been doing? What does it mean to “hack” into a computer system to steal or damage information? How is automation going to change the workforce and labor market? In what ways is technology combining with medical researchers to improve diagnoses or treatments of disease?
Not all students who study computer science will want to major in it in college and make a career out of it. But if they never have the opportunity to take computer science courses before getting to college, they won’t have the chance to discover if it’s a field they’d like to pursue.
And that’s important because computing jobs are the largest sector by far of all STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) jobs. In California alone there are currently 75,000 open computing jobs waiting to be filled, in every industry sector across the state. The average salary for those jobs is $110,000. The social mobility opportunities that a computer science degree and/or computing skills can provide for California’s low-income students, those of color or English learners and girls are enormous.
College Board data indicates that while much more progress is needed, numbers and diversity of California students taking a computer science AP exam have increased in recent years.
In 2016–17 only 488 California public high schools (out of just over 1,300) offered a Computer Science AP course (either AP Computer Science-A or Computer Science Principles AP or both) but that number has increased to 569 schools for 2017–18.
In 2014–15, 2,924 California public school students took the AP computer science A exam; in 2015- 2016 that number rose to 3,481 students.
These are indications of growing interest — and demand — but still involve a tiny fraction of California’s student population. The AP Computer Science A course is more technical, emphasizing problem solving using Java and requires strong math skills.
But in 2016–2017, the College Board introduced a new AP course, called Computer Science Principles, which was intentionally designed for broader student access. It does not rely on any particular programming language, instead offering a multidisciplinary approach to teaching the underlying principles of computation. The course introduces students to the creative aspects of programming, abstractions, algorithms, large data sets, the Internet, cybersecurity concerns and computing impacts. As a result, the numbers of California students taking AP computer science courses in 2016–17 jumped to 6,781, with 3,581 taking the new Computer Science Principles AP exam and 3,200 taking the Computer Science-A AP exam.
In addition, while California public school Latinx students made up only 16 percent of total student CS AP test takers in 2015–2016, they made up 25 percent of total California public-school computer science AP test takers in 2016–2017 and 34 percent of the test takers for the new Computer Science Principles AP course.