Cliff Lee, Professor of Education at Mills College at Northeastern University and Elizabeth Soep, Senior Producer and Research Director at Youth Radio have written a new book — Code for What?: Computer Science for Storytelling and Social Justice.
The book documents research over the past eight years at YR Media, a national network of youth creators, headquartered in Oakland, California. Lee & Soep described how code is an expressive medium for storytelling, meaning-making, and social change. The participating creators use code to produce content that unlocks insights, challenges oppressive systems, holds power accountable, and builds community with people contending with multiple structures of oppression, all the while expressing their creativity and tapping into their hope and joy for a better world.
The authors challenge the “code for all” movement and its underlying notion that teaching every student to code will make our world a more equitable place. Diversifying tech is not enough and they suggest, “We’ve got to collaborate with young people to deeply examine the tools we use, what we create with them, how audiences engage, and the impacts — both intended and unintended — of our products.”