Blog Post

Know Your Why: What Is Your WHY in Computer Science?

As an educator, you come to collect motivational and inspirational quotes along your professional pathway. My collection of quotes often helps to anchor my thoughts, values, beliefs, and sometimes helps to define who I am as an educator and why I became an educator.

When I became a computer science educator, my passion ignited, and my collection of quotes pivoted to deeper ones that shed light on my purpose to advocate for computer science. One of my all-time favorite quotes that guides my advocacy journey and passion for computer science education is a quote by the comedian Michael Jr.: “When you know your ‘why’ then your ‘what’ has more impact, because you’re working towards your purpose.”

So, let's reflect on the following

  1. First, take a few moments to think about your "Why" in education. Jot down your thoughts if you like.
  2. Then think about your "Why" in computer science. 
  3. Think about the two questions. How do your answers differ? How are they the same?
  4. Now find an object in your home space or in your immediate surroundings that connects your "Why" to computer science. 

Finally, watch this video

After watching the video, did your “Why” change? Do you need to redefine your “Why” in CS? As I go through the reflection, I’m wondering if my “Why” needs to change because of remote learning?

According to Simon Sinek, “It’s not enough to know what you do and how you do it. At our essence, we are most motivated by knowing why we do things. And it’s through that awareness that we can best connect with and sell to others.”

My passion in computer science is bringing awareness and access to all teachers and students. An even deeper passion is to bring computer science to all students. I’m not saying that every student should major in computer science or become a programmer. I’m just saying that all students should have access to learn the basic skills in computer science. Students have devices and students are using those devices, but they do not know how computers work and process information. My “Why” has become more impactful because I’m working toward my purpose to bring computer science awareness and access to all teachers and students.

As you continue to ponder on your “Why” and purpose in computer science, take a moment to consider these follow-up questions:

  • What keeps you grounded in computer science? 
  • Is computer science your passion or purpose?
  • What curiosities do yo have about your "Why" in computer science?

Share your “Why” and “What” in computer science below as well as any thoughts, “Aha” moments, or ponderings. Feel free to respond to others. Remember, we are all teachers, but we also all are learners!

Vanessa Jones is a Technology Design Coach for the Austin Independent School District in Austin, Texas. She is a facilitator for CS Fundamentals, CS Discoveries, and CSF DeepDive. She is also a member of the CSEdWeek/Hour of Code Advisory Committee. Vanessa was one of the writers for the K-12 Computer Science Framework with a focus on Equity in Computer Science and is a member of the 100in10 Diversifying the STEM Teacher Pipeline Project Team.