Computational thinking ~ really?

I’m a great fan of ISTE, and love to get updates and information about things that are happening. In my email today were a few tidbits that made me stop and think.

Wow, that’s crazy is more like the sentiment that crossed my mind.

The buzz word this time was “computational thinking”.  Perhaps this is a term that is embedded in curriculum frameworks in North America, but I was a little saddened to see thinking in a digital age being described by such a mechanised term. Seriously -  thinking is thinking, and calling it computational thinking seemed to me to reflect that educators are not understanding the immersive nature of  21st century learning environments.

It’s like saying ‘water swimming’ instead of ‘swimming’. How else would you swim except in water?  So in 21st century environments, how else would you facilitate thinking except with the power of technology – that may or may not be ‘computational’ by the way! I do understand the need to still talk about digital age skills, because so many teachers are still struggling with being digital. I really don’t want to  bury 21st century thinking terms like this.

Computational thinking reminds me of the the Hungarian word for computers (when they don’t use the English word, which is most of the time now). A computer is a  számítógép – which literally means adding machine.  See how that shows the origins of the term?  Computational thinking is like an old term for a new idea – one that is actually NOT new at all anymore!

However, the video is good, and has some great ideas. Wish we just didn’t have the term!

cc licensed ( BY SD ) flickr photo shared by Katherine Squier