The Day the Purpose of College Changed: What was the influence on CSEducation?

March 27, 2015 at 7:50 am 13 comments

The article linked listed below provides the discussion that then-Governor Ronald Reagan changed perception greater education and learning in the United States as soon as he said on February 28, 1967 that the function of better education and learning was jobs, not “intellectual curiosity.” The author presents evidence that day marks a turning allude in just how Americans believed around better education.

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Most of CS education and learning came after that day, and the emphasis in CS Education has constantly been jobs and also meeting industry demands. Could CS Education been different if it had began before that date? Might we have actually had a CS education and learning that was more like a liberal education? This is an issue for me considering that I teach mostly liberal arts students, and I believe that computing education and learning is necessary for providing civilization effective new devices for expression and thought. I wonder if the emphasis on tech jobs is why it’s been hard to establish computing requirements in universities (as I said in this Blog
CACM post). If the objective of computing education in post-Reagan greater education is about tasks, not about improving people’s lives, and many higher-education students aren’t going to become programmers, then it doesn’t make sense to teach everyone programming.

The Chronicle of Higher Education ran a similar item on study (see write-up here). Research this particular day is about “grand also obstacles,” not around Reagan’s “intellectual curiosity.” It’s structured, and also it’s focused. The Chronicle piece says that some of these structured and also focused initiatives at the Gates Foundation were more effective at fundamental research than they were at achieving the task objectives.

“If a university is not a location wbelow intellectual curiosity is to be encouraged, and also subsidized,” the editors composed, “then it is nothing.”

The Times was giving voice to the ideal of liberal education and learning, in which college is a vehicle for intellectual development, for cultivating a versatile mind, and also, no matter the focus of study, for cultivating a broad set of expertise and abilities whose value is not constantly automatically apparent.

Reagan was staking out a competing vision. Learning for learning’s sake might be nice, however the rest of us shouldn’t need to pay for it. A better education need to prepare students for work.

using The Day the Purpose of College Changed – Faculty – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

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Graham Lee | March 27, 2015 at 10:00 am

I decided to have actually a look at ACM’s Curriculum ’68 to view how quick that adjust was. This appears to be the pertinent paragraph:

> The demand for dramatically raised numbers of persons to work in all locations of computing has actually been listed in a report of the National Academy of Sciences- National Research Council <6> (commonly recognized as the “Rosser Report”) and also in a report of the President’s Science Advisory Committee <7> (regularly dubbed the “Pierce Report”). Although programs based on the recommendations of the Curriculum Committee have the right to contribute dramatically to satisfying this demand also, such programs will certainly not cover the full breadth of the need for personnel. For instance, these recommendations are not directed to the training of computer system operators, coders, and also various other organization personnel. Training for such positions, and for many type of programming positions, can probably be offered ideal by applied innovation programs, vocational institutes, or junior colleges. It is additionally likely that the majority of applications programmers in such locations as service information processing, scientific study, and also engineering evaluation will certainly continue to be professionals educated in the related subject matter locations, although such students can undoubtedly profit by taking a variety of computer scientific research courses.

But the majority of exciting is that the committee’s 1965 preliminary report (An undergraduate regime in computer system science—preliminary recommendations) doesn’t talk around jobs, focusing on computer system science as “a distinctive area of study” and the demands to be met “in computer-related education”, including “work-related on applications programming” which is clearly out of the scope of Curriculum 68.

Anyway, it appears that tbelow _was_ an explicit reemphasis from the needs of education to the needs of the workforce in computer between 1965 and also 1968.



Bonnie | March 27, 2015 at 11:28 am

I graduated via a CS major in the midst of Reagan’s initially term, so I doubt his principles had much impact on the framework of my CS regimen. Many of the students were majoring in CS for the work. We all joked about it. Most importantly, the structure of the program was almost identical to today’s programs. We took CS1 to learn Pascal, and CS2 to learn the same data frameworks the students learn now. We took computer system architecture, and concept of programming languages, and also software program engineering, and also man-made intelligence, and databases. We took even more math than students gain this particular day – a complete course in mathematical logic on optimal of one more course in automata theory and also one more in evaluation of algorithms. I think that was because the CS significant was housed in a math department.

I have had to wade with ABET requiremetns and also ACM 2013 freshly, and what amazes me the majority of is exactly how little has actually adjusted. Tright here are new topics – defense was not a worry ago in 1983 – however the bulk of the curriculum is IDENTICAL to what I remember in my regime. So I would certainly say, no, Reagan’s principle that colleges have to focus on work had actually bit influence CS programs post-80’s.



alanone1 | March 27, 2015 at 11:48 am

Hi Bonnie

I agree via your guess that Reagan had bit to perform through this. I obtained to watch this from a somewhat restricted viewsuggest (from within ARPA-IPTO and also then Parc) with much much less awareness of the general scene.

That being sassist, I think that the 2 largest forces were — independently and partially in combination — (a) the fast climb of IBM from the early on 60s after they made a decision to dominate computing, and the competitive reaction of other merchants, and (b) the ACM itself, which determined to put significant initiative into defining curricula in the late sixties right into the beforehand 80s (this is wbelow Pascal came from). My impression from the outside is that the ACM actually had even more affect academically than IBM did.

This brought about what some of us from that era called “curriculum wars”, which could be overstreamlined (but not to the suggest of good error) by “the battles of the early binders vs the late binders” or “the Algolists vs the Lispists”. This concerned a top in the late 70s, wright here from my suggest of view anymeans, the excellent side shed and also CS in universities, especially in initially classes came to be the province of “the 50s”, and has actually pretty much remained that way to the current time.

The merchants were somewhat to blame because they persisted in putting out old style architectures that were not efficient for late-bound programming. The architectures that were excellent (such as the B5000 in 1961, and also the Parc Alto in the 70s) were suppressed or not noticed despite considerable effort to indevelop and also teach.

Sic transit gloria mundi



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alanone1 | March 28, 2015 at 8:29 am

Another perspective on the larger process of adjust in colleges is to be discovered in publications about the baby boom and its results on greater education, such as “Imposters In The Temple” created by a Stanford professor (and originally appearing in the at an early stage 90s).

Part of the discussion here is that the baby boom in colleges was not ready for: some of the outcomes were a huge development in brand-new profs and journals through a significant lowering of standards and objectives, and also that this push extended right into fiscal problems which lugged even more business forms into university management.