The Programming Olympics

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  1. The Programming Olympics (2 messages)

    The Pure Joy of Learning

    It's 10:00 am on the first Saturday of school at C.U. (University of Colorado). No projects have been assigned yet. No significant homework. So why do we have 24 C.S. students in the Computer Science Engineering Lab? They're about to compete in the first annual Windward / C.U. Code War. Participating doesn't count toward a grade. It fulfills no school requirements. It doesn't pay. So why are they here?

    For the same reason some people will spend an entire day playing basketball in a tournament. The pure joy of competing at something you love. These 24 students woke up early and spent their Saturday designing and writing code. Did they enjoy it? Every single one said they want to do it again next year. Why? Because a lot of us programmers love what we do. Yes we get paid well for it, but it's not the pay, it's that we love the work.

    Events like this add significantly to the college experience. First off, it helps reinforce a joy in learning purely for the sake of increased knowledge. That is one of the fundamental tenets of learning.

    Second, it provides a more diverse learning experience. A code war is different from an assigned project. With an assigned projectc everyone can get an A and the criteria to do so are very clear. In a code war there is only 1 winner and so you have to strive to write better code than the others, without knowing what the other teams are creating.

    Third, I think back to what one mom said when we were complaining about driving our daughter's soccer team all over the state for games -- that it's cheaper than drug rehab. Providing compelling events for students that keep them busy helps reduce the time they're learning the hard way that dumb behavior has consequences.

    Article continued (with video) at Huffington Post - The Programming Olympics.

  2. Helicopter parent rationalization[ Go to top ]

    I think code competitions are great and all (I question how applicable to the real world they are) but this guy totally lost me with the "better than rehab" comment. I reject the idea that keeping kids or college students busy at all hours of the day is necessary to prevent them from using drugs. What happens when they aren't in school anymore? Are you preventing them from learning the "hard way" or are you preventing them from learning? What happens when they go out to a bar the first time after work? They literally might end up dead because of their inexperience. Part of going to college is learning to be social without guidance. And for CS students in particular, they need to get some experience interacting with 'normal' people without supervision before they go out into the real world. And seriously, do we think that if we don't have code competitions, we will have an epidemic of strung out developers? Get real. What a bunch of BS.
  3. Helicopter parent rationalization[ Go to top ]

    Every weekend there are several students in the hospital and 10 - 20 students in the drunk tank here at Boulder. Every couple of years a student dies from over-drinking. Don't worry, there's plenty of opportunity for students to make dumb decisions and learn the results of them.

    But I figure anything that mitigates that a little is a good thing. Not eliminate it, but mitigate it. After all, enjoying life is great but lying face down in your own vomit comatose - not sure there's any upside to that.