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•Re: Re: The Case for Learning Perl

by merlyn (Sage)
on Jun 12, 2002 at 15:01 UTC ( #173855=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to :> The Case for Learning Perl
in thread The Case for Learning Perl

In the courses we teach, I stress to the instructors that the most important thing is to understand where the student is at when they ask a question, and that our job is to create a bridge from there to wherever they've paid us to take them.

However, sometimes these bridges are of the form of questions, not answers. Perhaps that annoys the "give it to me" crowd, but it certainly provides the proper environment for ongoing learning, long after we've packed up our laser pointers and headed home.

I'm also reminded of an aphorism given in one of the many management training classes in which I've participated:

You're only as strong as your strongest opponent.
On that scale, I'm pretty strong. {grin}

-- Randal L. Schwartz, Perl hacker

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Re: The Case for Learning Perl
by Abigail-II (Bishop) on Jun 12, 2002 at 16:32 UTC
    In the courses (Solaris, Perl, Networking) I often do the same. Replying to questions with counter questions. There can be several reasons for counter questions.
    • A question arises from a wrong assumption of how things are. By asking questions you can quickly narrow down where the wrong assumption is being made.
    • It can give the student a much better understanding of why a question has a certain answer. Understanding is far more valuable than knowing.
    • Sometimes a question is phrased so poorly (often by lack of understanding or knowing) that there is no answer, or the answer doesn't help the student. Asking counter questions can be more helpful than saying "Your question doesn't make sense".

    Unfortunally, if you apply such techniques on the net, be it on Usenet, web forums like this, and also on IRC, you are quickly labelled as being a bitch. For some reason, it's often expected to just give the answer.


      That label of "bitch" is often given by those that want things done quickly and cheaply. They don't care about education and enlightenment, only results.

      As an instructor, I believe it's better for one to ask more questions in return. You can give someone the answers, but you won't be helping them learn. Case in point: A high school teacher assigns only odd-numbered questions as homework, knowing that the odd-numbered questions are solved in the back of the book. A distinction can be made at the end of the year: those that want results (or to "get it over with") and had perfect homework grades, but poor test grades, and those that ignored the easy way and tried to work the problems out themselves.

      As this applies to the real world, those that learn through solving difficult solutions become much stronger at solving other problems. Those that want results become Pointy-Haired Managers. ;)

      John J Reiser

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