It would likely not make sense for someone to repeatedly run sprints, do agility drills, and hoist their body into another person for no reason. It isn’t until the context of football and the opportunities that participation in the sport entails that it would make sense for those students who choose to play to engage in it.
The context around football has been infused with value. There are clear models of success, scholarship opportunities to major universities, lucrative professional contracts, elevated social status, and the potential to dramatically change the economic conditions for themselves and their families in place. These are all aspects that add to the context around the motivation for participation in the sport.
The context of sports and entertainment stardom can inspire extreme levels of practice, perseverance, and production on playing courts and fields. Context addresses the important “for what” question.
Exposure to people who are operating at high levels of tech, their lifestyles, and their workplaces is critical to providing context to the content that students are learning. This context gives relevance to curriculum and study that may otherwise seem disconnected.
I believe that there is a need to intentionally build context around computer science education specifically. The utility of tech skillsets like competence in computer programming languages is multidimensional as it is used to build websites and software applications that operate cellphones, thermostats, airplanes, elevators, video games, social media, and so much more. These items were all brought to us in large part by computer scientists and engineers. This is all a part of tech context. Pretty much everything runs on software nowadays.
Reinforcing the utility and versality of educational content and where you can take it is a vital part of inspiring tech context. One of the dictionary.com definitions of context is “the set of circumstances or facts that surround a particular event, situation, etc.” The context of why accelerating in tech education generally and computer science more specifically in South Florida, for example, where I am based is key.
There is an economic imperative here that accompanies the need to inspire tech context. This context includes understanding the industry standards and skillsets that will have an elevated level of marketplace demand and value for current students as they transition into the workforce in a South Florida that leads the nation in the growth of rent and housing prices and is among the perennial leaders in economic inequality.
Employer partners can be critical allies in inspiring tech context because they can provide real-time relevance to curriculum and insight into the different dimensions and ways that it can be applied. These partners are also critical because all industries, including tech, are constantly evolving and the preparation process for tech career pathways should constantly be retooled and updated to reflect the latest changes in economic conditions and in-demand skillsets.
Inspiring tech context requires going beyond the content and the classroom. It entails building infrastructures of opportunity that complement the curriculum, providing exposure that brings life to the content, and finding ways to dramatize the socioeconomic imperative of bringing individuals and communities into alignment with what is and will be a pivotal part of the economy.
Dr. Marcus Bright is a scholar and social impact facilitator.