In my view, the inability of a student to master a subject can be as much a failing of the teacher as of the student.
in reply to Problematic post on teaching programming
This can be true, but often it is not the current teacher's fault, but a previous teacher the student had. In high school I breezed through math and even took beginning Calculus concurrently at college. I found out that my Trig knowledge was woefully deficient and soon hit a brick wall in the second semester when the two were combined. That wasn't the Calculus teacher's fault, but it was too late by then. I don't think the Calculus teacher should have slowed the class down to my level just because of an inept high school education -- that would have been unfair to the rest of the class.
I made a personal decision not to be weeded out. I believed that I could indeed handle the mental challenge, I just didn't have a good foundation at the time. Sadly, there *are* people that can't handle the mental challenge, no matter the previous foundation. I believe he's just saying these folks should find something else -- I really doubt he'd say you'd have to get it 100% right the first time.
I'd be willing to bet that there are any number of monks who are happy and successful in programming careers who didn't bother with a jaunt through an institution that espouses Spolsky's elitist views on higher education.
I think what you really want to find is monks that are happy and successful that didn't go to school and that don't have the ability to understand C pointers and other fundamental CS concepts even after repeated attempts. I'm not saying these folks don't exist, but I'd like to see an example. Of course I don't think anyone really understands automata theory, for more than 5 minutes at a time ...