Wednesday, March 4, 2009

My ignorance is embarassing...

I've recently become aware how ignorant I am of the recent and current state of computer science education, and of the limitations of secondary education all together. I went to UC Santa Cruz in the 1970s, when interdisciplinary education was fairly new in American education. While intellectually I know my college experience of small, dynamic classes lead by closely involved senior faculty who I knew by first name and felt free to argue with was a bit unusual, I honestly assumed that with the passage of time that this had become the norm. As for CS, my experience was second hand, through my brother, 3 years ahead of me at UC Berkeley. Again, I'd come to assume that he and his experience was not that unusual, at least not anymore. I'm always surprised when I meet tech people for whom their choice of CS for a major was *not* a matter of passion, an avocation if you will, but I always figured such people were unusual.

Boy, am I wrong!

I'm at SIGCSE getting my nose rubbed in the fact that I'm woefully mistaken. Apparently CS is vocational education for people who want a reliable paycheck, companies buy out curricula in order to produce fresh generations of cubical cannon fodder, Open Source and interdisciplinary studies are still unusual and suspect, and all my friends and family are freakishly committed, talented, and passionate about what they do. Wow. How insanely sad! Even that last part makes me sad - I love my F&F, but how scary is the world if they are that unusual! My default is to assume that people have a rich inner life, love to learn, and are passionate about their work. Apparently I'm wretchedly naive.

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