A conversation with Jeannette Wing about computational thinking

This week’s show on ITConversations explores what Jeannette Wing means by computational thinking. As I noted here, she has coined that evocative phrase to suggest how the intellectual tools of computer science — including abstraction, naming, composition, state machines, refactoring, and separation of concerns — can add up to “a universally applicable attitude and skill set that everyone, not just computer scientists, would be eager to learn and use.”

At Carnegie Mellon, where Dr. Wing is head of the computer science department, this way of thinking pervades many other academic disciplines. But in her view, it’s really as fundamental as reading, writing, and arithmetic, and like those skills it should be taught in grade school. Since that’s not likely to happen anytime soon, I wonder if computer games — which already teach kids certain aspects of computational thinking — could help advance this agenda in a more deliberate way.

22 Comments

  1. How about “reasoning” for the fourth “R”? Maybe it doesn’t quite capture some of the “newness” of ideas in “computational thinking.” But it does start with “R”.

    I love the “Conversations” series. Keep picking great folks!

  2. I agree Computational Thinking is very important and can be a very important tool no mater what area you are in. i am wondering why there are no tools to support computational thinking. if we relay want to push this idea i think its more then teaching a powerful way to think but also giving them the power to do something with this thinking method. its like standards committees, whats better defining a standard if how to do something or just providing a tool to do it by the standard very easily. as a programmer i don’t want to implement long standards but i don’t care about taking a ready module with a simple interface that will implement the standard. should we be educating or creating tool for computational thinking ?

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