Walnut Hills, AP Computer Science, 1998-1999

Saturday 5 May 2007 by Bradley M. Kuhn

I taught AP Computer Science at Walnut Hills High School in Cincinnati, OH during the 1998-1999 school year.

I taught this course because:

  • They were desperate for a teacher. The rather incompetent teacher who was scheduled to teach the course quit (actually, frighteningly enough, she got a higher paying and higher ranking job in a nearby school system) a few weeks before the school year was to start.
  • The environment was GNU/Linux using GCC's C++ compiler. I went to the job interview because a mother of someone in the class begged me to go, but I was going to walk out as soon as I saw I'd have to teach on Microsoft (which I assumed it would be). My jaw literally dropped when I saw:
  • The students had built their own lab, which even got covered in the Cincinnati Post. I was quite amazed that some of the most brilliant high school students I've ever seen were assembled there in one classroom.

It became quite clear to me that I owed it to these students to teach the course. They'd discovered Free Software before the boom, and built their own lab despite the designate CS teacher obviously knowning a hell of lot less about the field than they did. There wasn't a person qualified and available , in my view, in all of Cincinnati to teach the class. High school teacher wages are traditionally pathetic. So, I joined the teacher's union and took the job.

Doing this work delayed my thesis and graduation from the Master's program at University of Cincinnati for yet another year, but it was worth doing. Even almost a decade later, it ranks in my mind on the top ten list of great things I've done in my life, even despite all the exciting Free Software work I've been involved with in my positions at the FSF and the Software Freedom Conservancy.

I am exceedingly proud of what my students have accomplished. It's clear to me that somehow we assembled an incredibly special group of Computer Science students; many of them have gone on to make interesting contributions. I know they didn't always like that I brought my Free Software politics into the classroom, but I think we had a good year, and their excellent results on that AP exam showed it. Here are a few of my students from that year who have a public online life:

If you were my student at Walnut Hills and would like a link here, let me know and I'll add one.

Posted on Saturday 5 May 2007 at 00:00 by Bradley M. Kuhn.

Submit comments on this post to <bkuhn@ebb.org>.

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#include <std/disclaimer.h>
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Both previously and presently, I have been employed by and/or done work for various organizations that also have views on Free, Libre, and Open Source Software. As should be blatantly obvious, this is my website, not theirs, so please do not assume views and opinions here belong to any such organization.

— bkuhn

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Bradley M. Kuhn <bkuhn@ebb.org>