sábado, maio 05, 2018

Transferable Skills: "Wired For Coding: How to Stand Out From The Crowd and Land Your First Job as a Developer" by William Bushee



Whatever they are taught today will be obsolete tomorrow. But the concepts won't. Good programming requires the ability to break down a task, organise the steps in performing it, identify parts of the process that are common or repetitive so they can be bundled together, handed-off or delegated, etc. These concepts can be applied to any programming language, and indeed to many non-software activities. Educating youth does not drive wages down. It drives our economy up. China, India, and other countries are training youth in programming skills. Educating our youth means that they will be able to compete globally. This is the standard from the Right that we don't need to educate our youth, but instead fantasize about high-paying manufacturing jobs miraculously coming back. Many jobs, including new manufacturing jobs have an element of coding because they are automated. Other industries require coding skills to maintain web sites and keep computer systems running. Learning coding skills opens these doors. Coding teaches logic, an essential thought process. Learning to code, like learning anything, increases the brains ability to adapt to new environments which is essential to our survival as a species. We must invest in educating our youth. What coding does not teach is how to improve our non-code infrastructure and how to keep it running (that’s the stuff which actually moves things). Code can optimize stuff, but it needs actual actuators to affect reality. Sometimes these actuators are actual people walking on top of a roof while fixing it. However, training lots of people to be coders won't automatically result in lots of people who can actually write good code. Nor will it give managers/recruiters the necessary skills to recognise which programmers are any good.

Bottom-line: Coding has little or nothing to do with Silicon Valley. They may or may not have ulterior motives, but ultimately they are nothing in the scheme of things. I disagree with teaching coding as a discrete subject. I think it should be combined with home economics and woodworking because 90% of these subjects consist of transferable skills that exist in all of them. Only a tiny residual is actually topic-specific. In the case of coding, the residual consists of drawing skills and typing skills. Programming language skills? Irrelevant. You should choose the tools to fit the problem. Neither of these needs a computer. You should only ever approach the computer at the very end, after you've designed and written the program. Is cooking so very different? Do you decide on the ingredients before or after you start? Do you go shopping half-way through cooking an omelette? With woodwork, do you measure first or cut first? Do you have a plan or do you randomly assemble bits until it does something useful? Real coding, taught correctly, is barely taught at all. You teach the transferable skills. ONCE. You then apply those skills in each area in which they apply. What other transferable skills apply? Top-down design, bottom-up implementation. The correct methodology in all forms of engineering. Proper testing strategies, also common across all forms of engineering. However, since these tests are against logic, they're a test of reasoning. A good thing to have in the sciences and philosophy. Technical writing is the art of explaining things to idiots. Whether you're designing a board game, explaining what you like about a house, writing a travelogue or just seeing if your wild ideas hold water, you need to be able to put those ideas down on paper in a way that exposes all the inconsistencies and errors. It doesn't take much to clean it up to be readable by humans. But once it is cleaned up, it'll remain free of errors. So I would teach a foundation course that teaches top-down reasoning, bottom-up design, flowcharts, critical path analysis and symbolic logic. Probably aimed at age 7. But I'd not do so wholly in the abstract. I'd have it thoroughly mixed in with one field, probably cooking as most kids do that and it lacks stigma at that age. I'd then build courses on various crafts and engineering subjects on top of that, building further hierarchies where possible. Eliminate duplication and severely reduce the fictions we call disciplines.

2 comentários:

Book Stooge disse...

So, are you experimenting on your own little brood? :-D

I'm guessing the answer is a resounding yes. Especially that cooking part...

Manuel Antão disse...

Yep. For starters he's bilingual (Portuguese and English). In no time I'll have him writing code to put me to shame...