How can we improve overall Programmer Education & Training?

Posted by crosenblum on Programmers See other posts from Programmers or by crosenblum
Published on 2011-03-20T16:54:46Z Indexed on 2011/03/20 19:28 UTC
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Last week, I was just viewing this amazing interview by Kevin Rose of Phillip Rosedale, of Second Life.

And they had an amazing discussion about how to find, hire and identify good programmer's, and how hard it is to find good ones.

Which has lead me to really think about the way we programmer's learn, are taught. For a majority of us, myself included, we are self-taught. Which is great about being a programmer, anyone can learn and develop skills.

But this also means, that there is no real standards of what a good programmer is/are, and what kind of environment's encourage the growth of programming skills.

This isn't so much a question, but just a desire in me, to see how we can change the culture of programming, and the manager's of programming, so that education and self-improvement is encouraged.

There are a lot of avenue's for continued education, youtube videos, books, conferences, but because of the experiental nature of what we do, it isn't always clear what's important to learn and to master.

Let's look at the The Joel 12 Steps.

The Joel Test

Do you use source control?

Can you make a build in one step?

Do you make daily builds?

Do you have a bug database?

Do you fix bugs before writing new code?

Do you have an up-to-date schedule?

Do you have a spec?

Do programmers have quiet working conditions?

Do you use the best tools money can buy?

Do you have testers?

Do new candidates write code during their interview?

Do you do hallway usability testing?

I think all of these have important value, but because of something I call the Experiential Gap, if a programmer or manager has never experienced any of the negative consequences for not having done items on the list, they will never see the need to do any of them.

The Experiental Gap, is my basic theory, that each of us has different jobs and different experiences. So for some of us, that have always worked with dozens of programmer's, source control is a must have. But for people who have always been the only programmer, they can not imagine the need for source control.

And it's because of this major flaw in how we learn, that we evaluate people by what best practices they do or not do, and the reason for either can start a flame war.

We always evaluate people in our field by what they do, and think "Oh if this guy/gal isn't doing xyz best practice, he/she can't be a good programmer, so let's not waste time or energy talking to them."

This is exactly why we have so many programming flame wars, that it becomes, because of the Experiental Gap, we can't imagine people not having made the decisions that we have had to made.

So this has lead me to think, that we totally need to rethink how we train, educate and manage programmer's.

For example, what percentage of you have had encouragement by your manager's to go to conferences, and even have them pay for it?

For me, and a lot of people, this is extremely rare, a lot of us would love to go to conferences, to learn more, but the money ain't there to do that.

So the point of this question is really to spark a lot of how can we train, learn and manage better?

How can we create a new culture of learning that doesn't insult people for not having the same job experiences.

Yes we all have jobs and work to do, but our ability to do our jobs well, depends on our desire, interest and support in improving our mastery of our skills.

Right now, I see our culture being rather disorganized, we support the elite, but those tons of us that want to get better, just don't have enough support to learn and improve ourselves.

I mean, do we as an industry, want to be perceived as just replaceable cogs?

Thank you...

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