As a husband and father in a family immersed in classical Christian education for over a decade, I have seen the tremendous value of this philosophy of teaching. Students learn how to understand both history and modern culture through the study of Scripture and classic literature. They learn to appreciate the order and beauty of God’s creation through math and science. They gain skills in persuasion and communication through logic and rhetoric. How could a course in the modern, seemingly human made field of Computer Science, such as the AP Computer Science Principles class I will be teaching at Wilson Hill Academy in the fall of 2018, possibly fit alongside these more traditional disciplines? Here are three reasons why I think it fits perfectly:
The internet is the 21st century Athens marketplace: In Acts, chapter 17, we read about the Apostle Paul, preaching in Athens to all who would hear him both in the temple and the public marketplace. He was eager to communicate the timeless gospel message in a timely and culturally relevant way. In the 21st century, the online world of the internet is increasingly replacing the public square as the forum where ideas are exchanged and opinions are formed. In AP CSP we will develop a deeper understanding about how the internet works and how we can be better citizens of it by studying big ideas like privacy, encryption, cryptocurrency and artificial intelligence. Through this I believe students can see how the internet influences their daily lives and how they can use it as a tool to influence others.
Computer Science is a 21st century literacy: Just like the explosion of literacy in the past two centuries has created countless opportunities for the world’s population to grow in knowledge and productivity, an understanding of computational thought will be an indispensable skill in the 21st century. While the majority of students in AP CSP may not intentionally pursue a career in computer science (though I hope some do!), I believe the foundation built in this class will be beneficial for all of them as they move into our increasingly digital world. Students will learn how to understand not only how to use a piece of technology like a mobile phone or smart toaster but how these innovations work and how they can make them work better for their specific needs. Students who want to learn more about computer science will have a strong base upon which to learn more advanced languages like C++ or Java, and those pursuing other paths, will understand how to use tools like scripting and big data analysis to do their jobs more effectively and efficiently.
At the end of Acts 17, we see how Paul’s willingness to engage in the Athenian culture bore fruit, as many individuals came to believe the Gospel message he was preaching. It is my hope and prayer that the addition of AP Computer Science Principles to Wilson Hill Academy’s course schedule will enable our students to learn new skills and ways of thinking to help them not only live in our modern, digital world but be positive influencers in it. By learning both practical skills like front end web development and discussing the impact of modern computing on our individual lives and society, students will leave AP CSP as more knowledgeable and proficient members of our 21st century digital world than when they entered. I can’t wait to kick off the course this fall and hope you will consider joining me in this endeavor!