[plt-scheme] Re: Computers considered harmful

From: Benjamin L.Russell (DekuDekuplex at Yahoo.com)
Date: Mon May 11 02:44:35 EDT 2009

On Wed, 6 May 2009 19:17:13 -0400, Marco Morazan
<morazanm at gmail.com> wrote:

>> i'll be contrary and say that i think having somebody learn
>> programming through spreadsheets is actually something of a nice idea.
>> i mean, if the spreadsheet thing really is motivation for them. sorta
>> like if somebody learns to write code initially because they like
>> modding video games. sure, their code might suck at first, but heck
>> whose doesn't?
>Is it possible for somebody to learn bad programming habits from
>programming spreadsheets?
>Is it important for the programming techniques someone learns to scale
>well and transmit to other domains in order to solve larger or
>different problems?
>I am sure somebody can learn to put a screw in a hole using a hammer,
>but would it not be better to listen to a mentor and use a
>> the problem is that educational facilities often don't give a rat's
>> ass about what could possibly really motivate each individual
>Really? I am not a member of the PLT team, but I feel your comment is
>out of line. It is precisely, because so many gainfully employed at
>"education facilities" that environments like PLT Scheme exist. I am
>rather sure these folks do care about motivating individuals as many
>others on this list.

Whether a particular professor cares about teaching probably depends
on the professor.

There was one professor (then Chairman of the Department of Computer
Science at my college (not affiliated with the PLT Group), back in
fall of 1990) who once told a student in his course, Introduction to
Computer Science (for majors), when this student had difficulty in
understanding his explanation of a concept, that the student "wasn't
cut out for computer science"--hardly a motivating remark.

This student felt very offended at this professor's comment, and then
took it upon himself to prove this professor wrong.  As a result, this
student then spent the next three and a half years (including one year
of leave of absence) studying discrete mathematics to major in
computer science.  Eventually, he graduated.

At the graduation party for computer science majors for students of
his year, he confronted the same professor and asked him what he
thought of his achievement.  The professor replied, "Well, since you
[had] kept at it, I thought you'd eventually get there."

Incidentally, the above-mentioned student once accidentally glimpsed a
note that this professor had written to himself wondering how to teach
garbage collection because it was so "boring" a topic, and overheard
comments from other students that this professor had a reputation for
"hating teaching introduction to computer science."  To this student,
it seemed as if this professor cared more about research than

Not all professors are like this.  There was one other professor in
the same department who actually won an award for teaching the same
course.  But it really seems to depend on the professor.  The reality
is that most professors get paid to do research, not to teach, even
though there are some professors who genuinely care about the quality
of teaching.

-- Benjamin L. Russell
Benjamin L. Russell  /   DekuDekuplex at Yahoo dot com
Translator/Interpreter / Mobile:  +011 81 80-3603-6725
"Furuike ya, kawazu tobikomu mizu no oto." 
-- Matsuo Basho^ 

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