Computer science education: why does it suck so much and what if it didn’t? | Ashley Gavin | TEDxNYU

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Ashley’s talk shines a light on the major problem that is American Computer Science education. In 2020, 1.4 million new jobs will be available for those with competing backgrounds, but we’ll only have engineers to fill two-thirds of them. Ashley shows us how we can right this wrong.

Ashley Gavin is a computer science education consultant with a passion for making computer science curricula empowering, accessible, and above all, fun. Her work in curriculum and program development serves as the foundation for some of the finest educational organizations in the country including her brainchild “Girls Who Code”.

During high school, Ashley was actively interested in tech. However, she was denied access to computer science courses at her school due her failing grades in math and science. In her senior year, the newly appointed CS teacher noticed her affinity for tech and took a risk by letting her drop math and take computer science instead. Ashley has since been working to do so for as many students as possible, especially those in underrepresented groups.

This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at

50 COMMENTS

  1. You don't need a degree and 4 years of computer science studies to get a programming job .
    If you do go to college you should expect a few math courses, and if you choose computer engineering, probably double that .
    However things like programming you can learn with very basic math skills if not none .
    While coding uses math, there's a layer of abstraction where you don't need to know the details at all .
    The paths are very different though, even if they lead to the same pool of jobs .
    There are cases where a person starts learning programming for a few months and gets a job very quickly.
    In other cases it might on average 12-18 months of courses, tutorials and books and small projects which then you can use to land your first job.

  2. math itself like the formulas and stuff dont matter that much, but the problem solving you use in math is very important, for example here is a triangle find this angle, here yyou should use what you have to reach your goal -finding the angle-, and its the same with programming

  3. 9:37 project based learning is exactly how I taught myself python without any guides at all. I did take an AP computer science principles class but that taught strictly computer science ideas, so programming fundamentals like conditionals and loops, different base numbers, encryption, networking/internet, etc. which helped with understanding the basics but I still had to do a lot of learning. I would think of a simple project and try to make it and whenever I wanted to learn how to do something, like get an input, I would search it up and learn the function. It slowly escalated and I ended learning way faster than my cousin's intro to computer science class in college which he started at the same time I started learning python with projects (he's also very smart so he went way ahead of the class). I tried so many things and even tried to read this big book but understood absolutely nothing until I used projects and became very good at it.

  4. Computer Science Education sucked at YSU because they ended with data structures and algorithms instead of starting with them. Computer science sucks as college major because no classes make use of data structures and algorithms. Computer science sucks in college because only a mathematician can appreciate algorithms and data structures.

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