The myriad applications of computer science pervade and underpin our lives to an extent unimaginable only a few years ago; indeed to such an extent that it is now difficult to imagine how modern society could function in their absence.
In two seminal lectures during the very early years of the development of computers, C.P. Snow and Alan Perlis, one of the key creators of the discipline of computer science, argued powerfully for the educational importance of teaching young people about algorithms, not only to gain the benefits of study of this intellectual discipline in its own right but also in order to develop young people’s ability to play a full and active part in a society where computational algorithms would assume an ever greater role. Their arguments, delivered over 50 years ago, were unusually prescient but today, in a world organised via companies such as Google and Facebook and where one’s own personal information and behaviour has a commercial value, they would seem self-evident.
At Gresham’s Computer Science is an option at GCSE and A-level and IB, and its study can open up a vast range of interesting and rewarding careers for young people. CS develops the logical and analytical skills required for “algorithmic thinking”, as well as the problem solving skills of abstraction and decomposition, and such computational skills are highly-sought after at the cutting edge of financial technology, artificial intelligence, robotics, engineering, “big data”, the rapidly developing field of virtual reality and across numerous fields of business.
Both challenging and intellectually satisfying, Computer Science offers its students what Seymour Papert, former Professor of Education at MIT and a leading figure in the development of both artificial intelligence and the beginners’ programming language Scratch, described as “hard fun”.