One of the themes I hear over and over again is that computer science is at odds with the more creative-type endeavors. Computer science is not equal to art; there is no art in programming a computer. I hear this from students, from colleagues, and recently, from high-school teachers. "We are losing students from our AP/programming-intensive courses. They all want to take the more creative courses, the computer application courses."
As someone who was attracted to this field *because* it is such a creative endeavor, this really disheartens me. There is a great amount of artistry involved in programming a computer, from the intense amount of creativity required to find good solutions to problems to the poetry involved in constructing algorithms and code to be efficient, elegant, and self-documenting. Not to mention the more obvious ties between art and technology--the music, and pictures, and movies, and user interfaces that we create using computer technology and computer programs.
But most people think of computers, and programming, as sterile and boring. Is it PR--the image of the lone computer nerd trying to hack into the computers of corporate America? Probably. But could it also be the way we're teaching it--that we're taking all the joy and artistry and elegance out of programming by focusing on the wrong things? I suspect so.
I'm thinking about this lately because I'm doing a presentation for some high school teachers very soon, many of whom have repeated the "computer science is not creative" lament to me. I want to help them see that creativity *does* and *should* have a place in their classrooms. I plan on showing them some assignments that I use in my own classes (and how I fit them into the overall fabric of the classes--related in-class activities and such) that are both pedagogically strong but also allow for a fair amount of creativity on the part of the students. The ideas for these assignments have come from other people who also are thinking very deeply about creativity and its (central) place in the CS major. I'm not sure how effective this presentation will be, but if it gets some of these teachers fired up again, then that's a start.