A Good Person Gets Recognition

Emmanuel Schanzer, all-around good guy and the driving force of the Bootstrap movement, was recognized in an article entitled “10 Men Making Waves For Women In Tech“.  It’s a really nice piece.

Emmanuel just posted about this on Facebook, and I really like what he wrote, so I am going to politely embarrass him by reprinting it here.  He expresses points that I often try to make and wish I could make as well as he does, regarding the accessibility of CS education for everyone, the strong connection to mathematics, and the importance of a great team to make it happen:

“I’m truly honored to be added to this list, and I’d like to add to what is written about me in the article.

While I may have started Bootstrap, it has long since been the work of an incredible team of talented people. Without Shriram KrishnamurthiKathi FislerDanny YooRosanna SobotaEmma Youndtsmith, Matthias Felleisen, and the entire Program by Design community, the program would not be what it is today. This is also a recognition of their decades of work.

As for what the program is today, I think it’s important to note that Bootstrap was never conceived as a “program for girls”. It has always been about the beautiful intersection of mathematics and computer science, focused around building cool things out of pure algebra. I am thrilled to see it used in so many electives and after school programs, but the heart and soul of the curriculum is all about the math classes that *everyone* takes in school — not just the kids who are interested, not just the ones who have time after school, or the ones who already see themselves as programmers. All students. All of them.

That focus places enormous constraints on our team when we sit down to write lesson plans, scope out new features, or train teachers. We can’t assume that all students are engaged, or even want to be there. And we can’t just let them tinker around and have fun, because dammit it’s a math class and assessment matters. We can’t ignore students who have special needs, who are english-language learners, or who don’t have access to computers when they do their homework. And we can’t assume that the teachers have programmed before, or that they even see it as valuable. These constraints make our jobs really, REALLY hard.

But these constraints also keep us focused on what’s important, and sharpen our efforts to be purely focused on the obstacles that make impact possible. Impact without equity is an oxymoron, so we set our compass by that star, and sail in the direction we think is good for everyone. I didn’t set out *just* to bring more girls into computer science, but thanks to the work of the best team I could hope for, Bootstrap is doing just that.

Good teaching lifts up everyone.”

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