Meet 2019-20 CSTA Equity Fellow Todd Lash.
In today’s CSTA Equity Fellow Spotlight, we’re introducing you to Todd Lash, a Research Associate at the University of Illinois in Champaign, Illinois. Lash is working with Cindy Wong, who we spotlighted earlier this month. Together they are working on a project “to curate and provide for the community, strategies shared by other educators who have developed and used equity-focused education practiced through trial and error in their own classrooms.” Check back next week to learn more about their project.
Five Questions With Todd Lash
What do you hope to achieve as a CSTA Equity Fellow?
I think that one of my biggest wishes is, that, because computer science education is really in its infancy, we have this amazing opportunity to start from the beginning and do it right. In my mind, that involves really putting equity and inclusion at the forefront of computer science education so that we’re reaching all kids and not just giving lip service to those ideas.
Can you describe how you’ve disrupted inequities in your classroom?
For a long time, despite the fact that there has been a lot of talk about inclusion and equity in CS education, that centered around gender and a lesser degree to around race. The elephant in the room has always been a disability. My work serves to put disability in the conversation and at the front of it so that we’re truly including all kids in computer science education. And not just giving them access, but making sure they are involved in a rigorous computer science education.
How did you get involved in teaching computer science?
I first became involved in teaching computer science as a part of a whole-school transformation. I worked at a school that was called a schools of choice model, where parents chose where to send their students in the public school system. Our school really didn’t have an identity and it was kind of floundering. And the opportunity to introduce computer science came up as one of our options and I took that and ran with it and taught myself what I needed along with getting some professional development from some university partners and it completely transformed our school and our kids’ lives. It made our school go from one of the least chosen schools in our school district to the second most chosen in the course of just three years.
What does equity in CS mean to you?
Equity in CS means giving all kids access to it, but also that we’re not just giving them access – that we’re giving them opportunity that involves them being successful in their CS education experiences.
Why should others consider teaching computer science?
I think everybody should consider teaching computer science because one of the things that schooling truly lacks if you walk into most classrooms is that kids are not engaged all of the time. Computers science is incredibly engaging to kids. They enjoy it but I think they also see how their entire world is filled with computer science. It’s everywhere around them and I think that giving them the power to understand their world is something we should all seek to do.