Introducing YippieMove '09. Easy email transfers. Now open for all destinations.
Comments Off
Category: Other

This time the hackaton was not as much a hackaton as a regular meeting.
Alex and I met up on Sunday morning and started to outline what we needed to do during the day and got started. We got surprisingly much work done. I was working on the back-end of our product, while Alex worked on the front-end.

By the end of the day we could certainly conclude that we’re on the schedule with our launch, and that a beta-release of the product will see the dawn of light in a not too distant future.

Excited yet? We are, so you should be too.

Introducing YippieMove '09. Easy email transfers. Now open for all destinations.

The other day I wrote about how much trouble highly educated programmers had solving a simple problem. I have long harbored a suspicion that part of the problem is the way universities work. Universities almost invariably produce inflexible text book memorizing victims rather than people prepared for real life work. This is exactly the people I don’t want to hire. Here’s where the universities go wrong:

  1. Universities encourage detail memorization. Anyone who has been to a university remembers the strain of memorizing arcane mathematical formulas or scientific tidbits. In most problem solving fields (e.g. any field unless your career plan is Jeopardy), this is a horrible mistake. Anything you memorize today is liable to be old news and wrong within a couple of years. And even if you could memorize timeless data, a university is likely to promote memorization of details rather than concepts. At the end of the day, details are easy: you can look them up. Concepts are not. They involve understanding.
  2. Universities are out of touch with reality. Rarely do universities start with real life problems and show you the way to a real life applicable solution. Rather they begin with an academic description of a solution, and once in a while – if they feel adventurous – they might actually present a problem that can be solved with the given solution. You get problem solving tools but no use for them – no wonder your brain feels inclined to get rid of them as soon as possible! It’s like a tailor buying expensive power tools for woodworking. Might be cool to have but damn they take a lot of space without doing much good.
  3. Universities make easy things seem hard. This relates to the previous point. Solutions without problems are inherently hard to understand. Every kid learns to walk by understanding the desired outcome, studying peers and parents and concurrently by experimentation. A typical ‘academic’ study of the same subject would perhaps be titled A method for locomotion by lower limb movement. This is not at all useful by comparison. Not even if the method is described with beautiful mathematical proofs. A person who was taught to walk at a university would be naturally inclined to think it very complicated, while in reality it’s easy. It is worthwhile to note that from the university’s point of view, making things seem harder than they are is a good thing. That justifies the existence of the university.
  4. Universities encourage intra group competition. Even to this day, many American universities do not have clearly defined grading standards and rather rely on arbitrary tests like bell curves. This forces the students in every class to battle it out with each other to get that elusive A they unfortunately need for future success. But in real life, fighting with your group members is the worst thing you can do.
  5. And finally, perhaps the greatest reason. Universities do not respect their customers. Most state funded universities do not usually consider themselves service providers in a free market. For a university, the paying customer is not a customer: the customer is a ‘student’. Rather than adapting to the demands of the customer, universities frequently require their customers to adapt to the universities instead. Once again, almost anyone who has been to a university has taken a class where the teacher is an affront to humanity rather than a shining example in his or her field. Alas, the students’ opinions about the teacher do not count because it is not very easy for the student to vote with their wallet.

A real life example of these shortcomings would be the programmers who came to me and couldn’t solve a simple task. Most people don’t know this, but programming turns out to be really easy. Universities are a part of the problem and every year they hinder another generation of young computer scientists from becoming the effective programmers we need for our computer based future.

Update 1: Just to clarify, this article is mostly about the field of computer science in non private schools. For private schools its more of a buyer’s market.

Author: Tags:

© 2006-2009 WireLoad, LLC.
Logo photo by William Picard. Theme based on BlueMod © 2005 - 2009, based on blueblog_DE by Oliver Wunder.