Archive for July 28, 2010

How much do we really need geeks?

That’s the lead question in this article from the Revolution ( newsletter.  The arguments being made (especially about computer scientists not caring about users) are similar to those that Brian Dorn heard from graphics designers, in explaining why they didn’t take computer science courses.  I found fascinating the first argument, that elegance and “best practice” have no place in the actual workplace.

There is a vast gulf between theoretical, “best practice” programming, as taught on many degree courses, and actual programming in the workplace. You may be taught that a certain thing should be done in such a way, or you should never use method xyz, but in practice you may be given a deadline of a week to produce something that “should” take three weeks, and you have to find a way to produce it. Quick and dirty hacks become more explicable in these circumstances. Then there is the difference between producing something satisfying to mind of a programmer, and something that an end user can actually use and understand. It may be the smart and logical way to do it, but if the end user can’t grasp it, its not especially valuable.

via Computer Science in the Workplace | revUp 97.

July 28, 2010 at 4:07 pm 9 comments

Education (even kindergarten) matters

Fascinating new economic analysis from the NYTimes. The impact of having a good kindergarten class and teacher fades in junior high — then returns as an adult.  In fact, it can be shown to have direct impact on how much the adults earn!  Education, even kindergarten, matters.

Students who had learned much more in kindergarten were more likely to go to college than students with otherwise similar backgrounds. Students who learned more were also less likely to become single parents. As adults, they were more likely to be saving for retirement. Perhaps most striking, they were earning more.

All else equal, they were making about an extra $100 a year at age 27 for every percentile they had moved up the test-score distribution over the course of kindergarten. A student who went from average to the 60th percentile — a typical jump for a 5-year-old with a good teacher — could expect to make about $1,000 more a year at age 27 than a student who remained at the average. Over time, the effect seems to grow, too.

via Economic Scene – Study Rethinks Importance of Kindergarten Teachers –

July 28, 2010 at 12:49 pm 4 comments

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