Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Fresh start

I'm not sure if we're actually supposed to be posting anything this class, but I figure I might as well. I've always been torn when it comes to technology education. To me, technology is something to be explored, learned inside and out, and used to its fullest.

I like disassembling things. If something isn't working, rather than take it in for repairs or buy a replacement, I will take it apart piece by piece and fix it myself. When I was in high school, this was something that clashed very strongly with how technology was being used. Teachers would expect us to be using new tech, but they would only teach us the very basics to get us off the ground. I didn't have a problem with this per se, but the expectation was that we would only use the techniques that we had been taught. I don't like being restricted in the techniques I can use. I like playing and experimenting.


We were given an assignment in computer science (at the university level!) to perform a series of operations on an array of objects and gracefully end processing once the list was finished with. For those not familiar with programming internals, most programming languages don't have a lot of built-in checks for things like the end of a file, a disc error, or undefined objects. If the language expects something and gets something else, it will throw an exception and crash. So the "end of list" check was supposed to be something we had to think hard on and figure out a way to program.

Now, I was taught the standard method for "catching" and handling exceptions before they crashed, as this can be a very handy feature in advanced programming. So my check function consisted of a simple catch for the list-end exception. I lost marks because we "hadn't learned that technique yet and that's not what I was looking for". Very annoying. It worked, it was a language-kosher way of handling it.... what's the problem?

This happens too often. If a student can run circles around classmates, let them. Mark them at a much higher level and hold them to a higher standard, but let them work at their most advanced level. It's obviously something they love, and they should not have that enthusiasm squashed with a "no, wait until the class is all in the same place.

Just my rant.


On a completely separate note, here's a cool video that everyone here should see. Nothing to do with technology whatsoever.


  1. Hey Chris! I know exactly what you mean about letting students work at their more advanced level. It's a universal "problem". Like the kid who just picked up their recorder and can remember and play the fingerings for at least 6 notes when the rest of the class only knows 3. I agree, we need to allow students to explore their own potential rather than forcing them to wait until everyone else catches up to them. In my opinion, that's how the majority of students get lost along the way, and stop caring about what they're doing. :)