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Anti-Racist Computing Education: No More Excuses


Racial Equity in CS

Today is MLK Day 2022. Today, Dr. Bernice King’s many tweets urged us to take action to #ShiftPriorities and #BuildCommunity. More importantly, she underscored that community and societal change begins with individual resolve and action. For us, the CS Education community, I read her words as a call to action—that we can no longer be apathetic or complacent. That we must attend to racial justice in every classroom at every level of education, and that each one of us must play our part. And treat every student with the love, respect, and compassion that they deserve. It is in that spirit that I write this blog post.

 

 

One of my goals this past winter break was to catch up on the many papers and resources on anti-racist and equitable computing (pertaining mainly to racial equity) that have been published over the last several months, and in fact, continue to emerge in amazing numbers. Given the huge growth in the body of literature on racial equity in CS education, there are now useful frameworks, guides, examples, case studies, research papers, presentations, and podcasts that CS educators, teacher educators, curriculum designers, and researchers can learn from, should they be interested and invested in making real change happen on the ground, especially with regard to racial equity in CS classrooms. With access to such a wealth of resources, it is worth asking why our efforts to broaden participation have still made barely a dent (see the latest Google-Gallup 2020 report and Kapor Center’s report on CS in CA Schools). It would appear that a crucial ingredient is still missing—the individual and collective will and resolve - to effect real change in our classrooms, curricula, and research efforts.

Here is a starter list of some of the resources I have pored over these last few weeks/months. Given how many documents, reports, and frameworks aggregate and curate guidelines for equitable and anti-racist CS education, I believe a list such as this pointing to (and amplifying) key resources would be helpful for the community. Barring a couple of key foundational theory papers, I will not list here the many relevant articles that these resources draw on and/or include links to, but I strongly recommend references and resources listed in these documents as part of essential reading on this crucial topic. Lastly, equitable CS education is not on K-12 CS educators and researchers alone. It is my hope that post-secondary educators pay special attention to these issues. They should avail of these resources and adapt them as necessary for their students.

This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but it’s a start. Of late, I have also been interested in papers on CS teacher PD for justice-centered and equitable CS teaching. I will dedicate a subsequent blog post to that topic.

For now, I will end with a pledge to look inward into my efforts and examine what (more) I can do to center racial justice in my CS education research projects, articulate concrete steps on courses of action including educating myself (using these and other resources and ideas), share ideas and plans of action with my collaborators, and find more ways to incorporate these in my research.

I urge each of you to do the same (as relevant to your context). 

Rest in Power, Dr. King.

 

Shuchi Grover (Senior Research Scientist at Looking Glass Ventures) is a computer scientist and learning sciences researcher whose research focuses on K-12 computer science education. She is co-author and editor of the Computer Science in K-12: An A-to-Z Handbook on Teaching Programming.


 

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