Several applications of computing, including VR, news, robotics, information, and automation.
Computing is everywhere, for better and worse.

Critically Conscious Computing
Methods for Secondary Education

Computer science (CS) is often taught as a utopian discipline, full of powerful abstractions that can transform lives and society for the better. However, as computing has reshaped every part of society in both highly visible and highly invisible ways, it has become clear that the foundational ideas in CS carry explicit values: ones of automation, replacement, standardization, centralization, and amplification. These values have positioned it as a discipline of power, and due to the ignorance with which it is often applied, often one of oppression. In this book, we reconsider the technical and pedagogical foundations of CS and CS education from this lens, and offer teaching methods for secondary education that foster students’ critical consciousness of computing, with the hope of fostering a more equitable, culturally sustaining, and just future of computing. 

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The phrase ‘Hello World’, with a boy on the left speaking through a can to a girl on the right, who is looking away.

Introduction

~25 min read
Several red outline boxes, some with faces, including Charles Babbage, Alan Turing, Ada Lovelace, Seymour Papert, and many other influential people in CS history. Chapter 1

Critical CS Education History

Foundations

~30 min read
A teacher is in the middle of the classroom, in dialogue with students who are seated at their desks around her. Chapter 2

Critical CS Education Pedagogy

Foundations

~40 min read
An overhead shot of hands writing on paper with blue marks annotating a drawing. Chapter 3

Critical CS Education Assessment

Foundations

~50 min read
On the left, the form of a face being analyzed by facial recognition, on the bottom, a row of men in prison jump suits against a fence, and above, the Amazon smile logo representing the sun. Chapter 4

CS, Equity, and Justice

Computing

~45 min read
A girl walking an enlarged rope like a tightrope, with abstract green shapes dancing in the backdrop. Chapter 5

CS and Design

Computing

~55 min read
A faceless human face made of lines and dots with a dress color and tie. Chapter 6

Encoding Intelligence

Computing

~45 min read
Earth, in a cracked chalice, whose base is rows of bits. Chapter 7

Encoding Information

Computing

~40 min read
On the left, a child drawing a graph and on the right, an large interconnected network of lines. Chapter 8

Computers

Computing

~50 min read
A line of gray scale people entering punch cards into a machine, with a punchcard in the background. Chapter 9

Operating Systems

Computing

~1 hour read
Photographs of programming language inventors, each in a blue circle. Chapter 10

Programming Languages

Code

~1 hour read
Three boxes connected by lines with small people inside, trying to get out. Chapter 11

Control Structures

Code

~1 hour read
A Black person looks left, viewing a black cube, with a more detailed cube below, out of view. Chapter 12

Data Structures

Code

~1 hour read
Several purple cubes of different rotations with people standing on them and in them. Chapter 13

Algorithms

Code

~1 hour read
Three faces, left to right: a detailed photo of a White man, an illustrative sketch, and a smiley face. Chapter 14

Abstractions

Code

~1 hour read
A large crowd of small people gathered in protest of a very large humanoid robot, backset by stock tickers. Chapter 15

Artificial Intelligence

Code

~1 hour read
An Asian man measuring and cutting wood amidst sketches and assemblies of a wooden chair. Chapter 16

Programming

Skills

~1 hour read
A women fixing a car engine that is steaming pixelated orange, with a gas canister that says DATA nearby. Chapter 17

Verification and Debugging

Skills

~1 hour read
Depictions of sign language, feather quills, pencils, stone tablets, and other creative tools. Chapter 18

Tools

Skills

~1 hour read
Margaret Hamilton standing atop the moon with printouts of code and illustrations of rockets in the background. Chapter 19

Projects

Skills

~1 hour read
Statures, whispering, Chinese characters, greek, and various artifiacts. Chapter 20

CS + Humanities + Social Sciences

Integration

~40 min read
Musical notation, dancers, writers, cameras, and more, amidst binary digits. Chapter 21

CS + Arts

Integration

~40 min read
A desktop computer and transparent hands with mathematical symbols on the screen and emerging from the computer and display Chapter 22

CS + Mathematics

Integration

~40 min read
Three women scientists in lab coats working with instruments amidst a sea of binary digits Chapter 23

CS + Science

Integration

~45 min read
A hard hat, hammer, cranes, and blueprints intersect with a laptop screen. Chapter 24

CS + Engineering

Integration

~40 min read
A Black man and a woman staring at a tablet while colored streams of technical and sociotechnical ideas flow in and out of the device. Chapter 25

Conclusion

Conclusion

~10 min read
A laptop showing code, surrounded by a ring of bits, circuits, and other related stem concepts.

Standards

Appendix

~30 min read
A magenta silhouette of a person walking down an aisle of library stacks, each glowing with binary digits.

References

Everything cited

An open book and a magnifying glass focused on the word glossary.

Glossary

Definitions

A series of labeled file folders, with a miniature boy sitting a top the M’s.

Index

Common words and where they are

A girl looking through a telescope at the stars, but the stars are nodes and edges.

Search

Find where words occur

Several applications of computing, including VR, news, robotics, information, and automation.

Media

Images and video in the book

Thank you to the excellent  Jessie Huynh  and  Ashley Wang  for sharing their creativity and design talents; they created all of the images for the book, as well as conceived of the book’s visual design. Our deepest thanks also to everyone who has read and shared feedback on the book, including Caroline Hardin, Alexi Brooks, Tom Ball, Dorothea Salo, Michelle Wilkerson, Brendan Henrique, Collette Roberto, Kristin Stephens-Martinez, Caleb Kamalu. We hope this list keeps growing! This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grants  2031265 2100296 2137312 2137834 , and  1539179  as well as unrestricted gifts from Google.

Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0

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Amy J. Ko, Anne Beitlers, Brett Wortzman, Matt Davidson, Alannah Oleson, Mara Kirdani-Ryan, Stefania Druga, Jayne Everson (2023). Critically Conscious Computing: Methods for Secondary Education. …, retrieved 12/6/2023.