Science Spotlight: Tech Requirement

Minjae Lee, Editor Emeritus

Despite living in a digital age, the core curriculum of private liberal arts institutions often lacks a distinctive technology requirement.          

     However, in recent years, higher education institutions such as Barnard College are gaining national attention due to their technology requirements aiming to educate students to become technologically competent, regardless of the career they choose to pursue.

     When asked if the upper school should implement a technology requirement as part of its core curriculum, faculty members and students highlighted the benefits and applications of taking computational and logical thinking courses such as Computer Science and Game Theory, but concluded that the choice be left up to the students themselves.

     Sean Hickey, a computer science teacher and technology specialist, says, “ I  think understanding technology from a social and political standpoint is something that I hope becomes an essential part of a liberal arts education.”

     Whereas Hickey opposes the idea of requiring every student to learn a programming language, he hopes to help students understand the capabilities of computers and coding and the implications they have on our lives.

     Furthermore, Tristan Saldanha ‘17, who argues the critical role computers play in national security and economic improvement, expressed his interest in courses that take an interdisciplinary approach to technological advancements in the context of human history.

     Saldanha details, “Most people don’t know that World War II was won not by soldiers or bombs, but by Alan Turing creating the first computer and using it to crack codes, letting allies eavesdrop on enemy communications. People have no idea how much technology has defined the path of historical events, and a class that showcases this would be fascinating.”

     In addition, Cindy Quinn ‘17, who will be attending Savannah College of Arts and Design in the fall, discovered that her passions lay at the intersection of mathematics and the fine arts.

     Interested in pursuing video game development, Quinn’s latest art project utilizes a programming language called “processing,” in which she constructed lines in motion that change whenever a user clicks the screen.

     When thinking about technology from a learning and a teaching standpoint, implementing a technology requirement concerns David Boxer, the

Director of Information Support Services, who expresses, “What I’d worry is we [educators] would focus on designing the experience for the technology.”

     Although Boxer acknowledges the  logical  reasoning benefits of  computer science courses, he doesn’t think those skills should be limited to “technology.” Boxer adds, “There are different ways to skin a cat.”

     Boxer added that anytime there’s a requirement on anything, we as humans aren’t intrinsically motivated. He concluded that it would be helpful to students if the faculty shared what they thought to be critical skills based on their experience in the collegiate and professional realms.