“Attention schools around the country: it is crucial that you redefine what you consider to be your CORE subjects. Computer Science and programming must be an integral part of education at all levels.” – Doug Bergman, USA
Computer Science Department Chair
Charleston, South Carolina, USA
Doug Bergman has contributed to Daily Edventures numerous times since we launched the blog in 2012, and while he always has something new to say, his overall message hasn’t changed. Computer science, Bergman says, deserves an important place in education.
“We need people who are not afraid to dive deep into technology,” Bergman says. “Gone are the days where those people are the nerds — in the decades to come, those people will be the leaders. Those who are in command of technology will be the leaders of research, academia, entertainment, philanthropy, business, and even government.”
Bergman, who spent a dozen years in public schools before joining the independent school world 20 years ago, is passionate about the importance of computer science in schools, and focused on ensuring his students have the opportunity to master technology – both hardware and software.
Gamification plays a big role in how he translates his passion to students.
“When we play games, we tend to fail over and over and over, yet we keep coming back for more. Yet, in daily life, that is not the case,” he says. “When we play games, we are on the edge of our seats, mouth dripping with excitement, focus, determination, and anticipation. Eager to take risks and challenge ourselves. We need more of that same spirit in everyday life.”
Learn more about what’s on Doug Bergman’s mind in today’s Daily Edventure.
What do you see as the greatest challenges in education today – how are schools responding?
We have become so dependent upon grades and testing that true education and love of learning are not necessarily goals in our schools. We’ve got to figure out how to set up our learning environments so that “school” does not get in the way of awesome education. What I mean by that is don’t let the rules, regulations, standards, and policy fly in the face of learning. Schools should be there to support the learning of the students.
Despite what we hear and see on the news, students DO WANT to learn. And given room to explore and create — as opposed to memorize and regurgitate — they will thrive and better yet, they will drive their own learning. At that point, it is our job the get out of the way.
We are starting to see colleges not require standardized testing for admission, that is one step. We are starting to see schools not put all of their eggs in the AP basket, that is another step. We just need to make sure “learning” is what drives school, not “evaluation of learning.”
What are the leadership qualities that you admire the most in others?
The ability to do something even when others say it cannot/should not be done. Finding others around the country who see education like you do, so that you are not fighting the good fight alone. That camaraderie is vital.
Be persistent and consistent in your passions and what you believe. Always be learning something new. And remember, there is always a better way — when you see it, don’t let your pride get in the way of embracing it.
Schools aren’t all about curriculum and routine, they are places which can show the best we are. Could you share a short anecdote about an event that touched you?
One of the students in my class found a video produced by a school whose students spent a couple of weeks planning to send a doughnut into space. They researched how to do it, and ultimately, put a camera on a small shelf with a doughnut and attached it to a helium balloon and then we experience the entire ride into space.
There was no test, no quiz, no questions at the end of the chapter. We should find ways to “send doughnuts into space” in every subject area in school.
What are you reading for professional renewal, and do you have any take away thoughts to share?
Well, I am re-reading Jane McGonigal’s “Reality is Broken” for the fourth time. It’s always refreshing to hear about gaming and gamification.
Why do you feel passionate about innovation and technology in the classroom? Can you share a particular instance in which technology helped transform your school and the work from the students?
We are still in the infancy of the digital age. We barely know how to use what we have, yet new technologies are being created every day. Some of these technologies are so powerful that they have the capability of changing how we fundamentally live.
It is both terrifying and incredibly exciting to think about the next decades in our future. We must be preparing our students for that future. Being able to just USE technology is not enough, we must teach students to be able to CREATE using technology. The have to be comfortable creating new tools to help them solve the problems that we have not experienced yet, but that are just around the corner.
In the same ways that people must be able to read and write proficiently, they have to be able to read and write software and hardware. Every industry needs experts in their fields who can command technology–make it do what they need it to, or even reprogram it to do something it was not meant to.
Attention schools around the country: it is crucial that you redefine what you consider to be your CORE subjects. Computer Science and programming must be an integral part of education at all levels.
What are some steps you can share for a successful whole school transformation plan?
Let there be no doubt where your passions lie. Let people see it in your work every day, all day long. Let your students be part of that passion. There should be days, often, when students walk out of your room saying, “WOW! That was awesome.”
About Doug Bergman
Computer Science Department Chair
Charleston, South Carolina, USA
- Blog URL: www.innovativeteacher.org
- Birthplace: Ohio
- Educational background: BS C.I.S. Clemson University, MA Education U.S.C., and currently in the middle of MS Computer Science at GaTech
- Website I check every day: edutopia
- Favorite childhood memory: Dad and I made a go cart together and on a windy day, we attached a big sail to it. Thirty seconds later, I found myself flying briefly as I made my way into a bush.
- Favorite Microsoft product, tool, technology: HoloLens and Kinect
- What is the best advice you have ever received? The secretaries are the most important people in an organization. If you want to know what’s going on, ask them.