I agree with most of Spolky's points. It's also possible that I'm an just another elitist academic, though ;) Anyway, I think you may be lumping computer science & programming together in the same boat.
Spolsky is talking about universities teaching computer science instead of teaching a programming language. Computer science is a difficult discipline. It is founded on math & logic, and no one is claiming these are easy. Acquiring the appropriate foundational knowledge requires many difficult conceptual leaps. He argues that we should not abandon them just because they're hard. Or if we do abandon them, we shouldn't pretend it's computer science that we're teaching.
It's not as if the universities are just throwing irrelevant material at the students just because it's hard, or just to make themselves feel smart. The hard material is relevant and necessary for understanding the main results the field of computer science. A computer science degree should reflect knowledge of computer science, and I don't think that's elitist.
As for "weeding out", I think that any student who goes into a CS degree program expecting nothing but Java lessons deserves to have a rude awakening, and as early as possible (for everyone's convenience). CS may require a lot more formality and mathematical rigor than a lot of college freshman are expecting.
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.
Of course. There's nothing being taught in universities that you can't learn on your own. I also don't think that's the point at all.
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