good outcome or not in light of those values—are the dynamic engine for adapting the rules and interpretations to the new circumstances.”

In some sense, I think the message that Roy [Pea] is delivering, that I, [and] Mitchel [Resnick] are delivering, is that we need to start thinking about how to create communities of people who care about computational thinking and who are doing it.


—Allan Collins

2.9
WHAT COMPUTATIONAL THINKING IS NOT

Several participants suggested that it might be easier to articulate what computational thinking is not. For example, Robert Constable argued that computer literacy—traditionally seen as the ability to use specific programs or features of given computer systems such as Word or Excel—does not demonstrate the ability to engage in computational thinking. (By contrast, he noted that one can know a great deal about computational thinking and computing concepts without knowing much about computers beyond how to get on the Internet and use an Internet browser.)

Along with a number of other workshop participants, Gerald Sussman argued that computational thinking was also not equivalent to computer science. Although computational thinking and computer science share some elements, he said that “computational thinking is a certain part of computer science. Mathematicians talk about mathematical thinking. Statisticians talk about statistical thinking. I think that computer scientists should talk about computational thinking.” To illustrate, he said that “scientific thinking is about apples and oranges and how they may be different or the same. Mathematical thinking is about spheres and where they have areas and volume and the fact that they may involve a particularly high number of dimensions. Computational thinking is about how a group of people can cut and share an apple so that each person feels he or she got a fair share of the apple.”

I know some people have been saying things like, computational thinking is a new way to define computer science. Computational thinking is a part of computer science, but is not the whole story.


—Peter Denning



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