A COMPUTER SCIENCE WORLDVIEW - A PROPOSAL FOR THE MEXICAN HIGHSCHOOL CURRICULA
Ubiquity of computing devices is every day more evident, we are surrounded by different systems helping us to carry out every-day tasks in almost every aspect of life. We are compelled to educate our children and young people, not only in the obvious sense of interacting and working with technology, but rather in the sense of understanding the basic principles and the underlying ideas; similar to other areas of science and humanities, that show the world to students through the eyes of a discipline’s worldview.
The many examples of every day computing uses, refer not to a computer, but to complex systems involving networks of interacting computing devices, data storage, communication, sensors, etc., where information is stored, organized and processed; information obtained from the surrounding environment through input devices that capture human data (voice, music, images, texts) or natural data (temperature, moisture, movement, etc.) that is transformed into outputs of different nature that could even be used to control robots and other machines. Clearly enough, human beings form part of these complex systems.
We should stress the fact that computing exists and has always existed without computers. Information is processed in nature, in our imagination and of course by the human brain. We use the term "computing" within this very broad sense.
This paper presents the proposal (described in greater detail in the book: Rajsbaum, S., (coord.). Conocimientos Fundamentales de Computación, México, UNAM, Colección Conocimientos Fundamentales, 2010. ISBN 978-970-32-4987-9) for teaching computing in Mexican high schools by the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, that aims at ennobling computing, raise it to the level of respect held by other disciplines, such as biology, chemistry, or physics. It describes many examples of daily situations that can be better understood only through a computing perspective, and are of interest to all students, not just for the ones with an affinity for technology. The topics covered are: algorithmics, problem solving and the limitations of computing; information and knowledge, abstraction and logics; networking, fault-tolerance and communication.
In fact, computing is the queen of cross-disciplines, since every discipline requires information processing capabilities. New disciplines have emerged, such as computational biology, computational physics, and other disciplines combining computing with social and economic issues. The links between computing and arts are among the most interesting and stimulating interactions that we can find. However, we are not referring to computing as a tool used by other sciences, but rather to the conceptual interaction of computing with other disciplines. The concepts of computing scientists have shed a new light on the way in which other disciplines look at themselves.
Basic computing knowledge does not only help us understand the world we live at from a new perspective, but also provides us with important skills: defining a problem clearly and accurately; creating methods to design and assess solutions, as well as organizing complex systems that include companies, production chains and distribution systems, which at the same time can be used to study the consistency of a law system, the validity of a voting system, demographic growth, public transportation in a large city, the behavior of the stock exchange and many other ordinary situations.