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Re: (OT) Where is programming headed?

by mr_mischief (Prior)
on Dec 18, 2001 at 08:51 UTC ( #132784=note: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??


in reply to (OT) Where is programming headed?

Perhaps they don't want their students to become maintenance programmers. Perhaps they want the glory of turning out buzzword fanatics, and they want to leave 'menial' work like maintenance to tech school graduates. Perhaps they're just putting a spin on things because they don't have instructors available who are competent in procedural programming.

At the university I dropped out of, Pascal had been the introductory language of choice until my freshman year. It was replaced by Ada because Ada taught a broader set of concepts and had improved a bit on Pascal's type system, not to mention that since it is a 'real working language' -- not a teachign tool like Pascal, the same language could be used for a longer period from course to course. This allowed the students to bring everything back to one set of texts for one language and use one compiler for most of the coursework needed for the degree.

Did this keep people isolated to one language? Absolutely not. There was a class called "C and Unix 1" and a "C and Unix 2" which taught the OS and the language together for historical, demonstrative, and a host of other reasons. There was also a SmallTalk class, and a Lisp class or two. One of the things that excited me when I was planning my track was the pair of classes "Survey of Programming Languages 1 & 2". One thing my close friend was excited by was "Programming for Numerical Analysis and Suited Languages". There were also compiler classes, a basic OS class, a graphics programming class, and several others, many of which used a language peculiar to the class in order to keep the level of immersion in different languages high. Some combination of all of these was required as one's CS elective if one wished to graduate from said university with said degree.

This might sound like a lot to some, especially when you consider the mandatory Calc 3, Linear or Matrix Algebra (both recommended), a 300+ level Stats or Actuarial class, Discrete Mathematics, and 60 credit hours of work outside the major. It was at a public uni with only an 85% placement (both work and grad school) for its CS graduates within 9 months of graduation -- a rather poor showing when I attended in 1994 and 1995.

Perhaps some schools at any level should remember why institutionalized education exists. It's there to expose the student to a wider range of things, ideas, and experiences than private teachers can and at less cost. It is my NSHO that any school which pretends to be a university instead of a polytechnic, trade school, or guild school and which insulates its students from the world so much as many do should rethink why it was given a charter and start acting more in the spirit of that document. Focused schools are fine for teaching a particular well-defined set of skills, but a university was a more global purpose and the education there should reflect that. This holds true whether the area of study is Computer Science, History, or Central European Etymology of the Later Dark Ages.

Sorry for the long-winded rant. I guess I find, being a full scholarship dropout, that certain people in certain towers should remind themselves that the whited sepulchre looks ivory on the outside, too. Some of the greatest intellects I've met are professors or have advanced degrees. The same is true about high school students.


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