I am happy to have checked Reddit the other day because through it I found three beautiful essays by Mike Tarver and one by Larry Wall:
- Why I am Not a Professor OR The Decline and Fall of the British University – Gasp! I am amazed by the parallels between what Mike Tarver writes and what we are doing here in Mauritius. Ok… some parts are a little bit caricatural but I’m 100% with him when he says that the University level programmes should be much tougher than what they are now. I wonder what percentage of my UoM students would have managed to succeed if they were given the exams I had when I was in France ten years ago… I’ll be even bolder: Universities should be elitist!
- Hackers and Fighters – Is there a correlation between studying computer science and knowing about computers? Is a street programmer better than the computer science graduate? Is there a way to teach programming so that a computer science graduates become as good (if not better) than a street programmer?
- The Bipolar Lisp Programmer – Having read this article, I must now confess that I am Bipolar! A Bipolar has “intellectual acuteness and [does] not [take] things seriously. The not taking things seriously goes with finding it all pretty easy and a bit dull. But also it goes with realising that a lot of human activity is really pretty pointless, and when you realise that and internalise it then you become cynical and also a bit sad”. Mike Tarver refers to the Lisp community in his article and it’s now obvious why I am such a big fan of Scheme and Haskell…
- Perl, the first postmodern computer language – It is easy to guess that this one has been written by Larry Wall. And it is beautiful! Before reading the article, I did not like Perl (even after having read Programming Perl). After reading the article, I want to give Perl a chance to convince me once more… I’ll definitely buy Learning Perl. The article focusses on the difference between a modern programming language and a postmodern programming language. Postmodern? How can that exist? In fact, Larry Wall argues that the modernists oversimplify problem solving. Modernists puts the focus squarely on the hammer and the nail. He says that a good postmodern problem solver uses different tools to solve different problems hence the necessity for something like Perl.
(Beautiful photo by Doorgesh!!!)
Randal L. Schwartz says
After “learning perl”, check out “intermediate perl” and “mastering perl”, our 1-2-3 sequence to get the most out of Perl.
THE Randal L. Schwartz who has written Learning Perl has commented on my blog!!!
I’ve reached nirvana :-)
Randal L. Schwartz says
That’s what you get for mentioning my book. :) Google Blogsearch is great for kibo-ing.
“IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll be even bolder: Universities should be elitist!”.
Now this is what I call bold :-) I think its the same thing happening as 30 years ago when a school certificate holder could write excellent English/French and be cultured. And also 20 years ago when you could get a clerical job with an HSC. Today clerical jobs are done by uni graduates. Is it too easy to earn a degree in Mauriitius or have the programmes been diluted just to show that we now have many graduates?
I think part of the problem lies with the inability of students and authorities to get rid of the college habits, still expecting notes, spoon feeding etc. How many IT students learn programming beyond what is in the syllabus? How many students take time to voice out their views in the forums section? Can you image 1968 in France and May 1975 in Mauritius? Not sure but I think the PSM party was formed by UOM people (lecturers? and students?)
And I’ll add something else to that sentence: “Universities should be elitist especially the University of Mauritius as we are a poor country and we cannot afford to waste our precious tax-payers money on students who do not have the talent to become top computer scientists”
The only problem is HOW ARE WE GOING TO IDENTIFY THOSE?
We can’t really count on A-Level results, can we? Or we might miss a lot of Einsteins…
To everyone else:
Meet Mr Randal L. Schwartz, programmer, book author and ex-computer criminal who has been expunged since.
I clearly remember one editorialist in Dr Dobbs Journal in 1995 (when I was 22) asking all programmers on the planet to contribute money to help pay for the legal bills. I wanted to contribute but I couldn’t at that time as (i) I was broke and (ii) I did not know how to do that as e-commerce was still in its infancy at that time…
amen to that…
i’ve not yet read all the articles in details (exams oblige!), but am definitely in favor of turning universities into an elitist community…
as to how to identify those ppl, what about an aptitude test? instead of relying on A-levels results… maybe that would enable universities to channel kids on the good path, and well it would even be better for the students, its much better working in a field you are comfortable with, rather than spending 3 years in an alien environment.
knowledge can be acquired… but intelligence is innate…
As you might be aware the term “elitist” and Education in the same sentence are quite taboo in Mauritius. I am all for not wasting tax payers’ money hence some kind of selection. It’s a known fact that when people get something for free they don’t value it, this was taught to me by a yoga teacher who said that you have to charge people when you teach them yoga so that they come to the class and practice.
How to select them? A levels only? Aptitude tests? I would go for both. Good A levels, education history of last 5 years (by now IT is advanced enough to enable maintenance of a central student’s database by the Ministry of Education) plus aptitude tests. However, the candidate should be able to have at least three attempts at the aptitude tests. But considering the fact that our education system has reached a point where only middle class and up are able to fund their children’s education correctly to get good A levels we’re back to square 0.
Now, knowing that most of French educated people are quite leftist I’m a bit surprised by your views on uni being elitist. That said I read the “Why I’ not a professor ..” article and its 100% Mauritius.
I’m leftist but not oblivious to the fact that we are a poor country and therefore (unfortunately) we can’t have every 18-year old Mauritian doing tertiary studies.
The country is suffering from (i) an acute brain drain (many of my friends have already gone…) and (ii) a failure to understand that we cannot compete with India or China quantity-wise… we can only compete (and survive) if we focus on quality.
Very few countries (France and Germany for example) offer free tertiary education. And 50% of the students are eliminated after one year.
Here we are “plus Royaliste que le Roi”…
I always tell my students that we have an inverse pyramid here: We eliminate half of the population with the CPE exams (including a lot of Einsteins and Shahrukh Khans) and we want to “democratize the access to University”!
We should democratize access to college first!
I entirely agree with this : He says that a good postmodern problem solver uses different tools to solve different problems hence the necessity for something like Perl.
Hmm.. sometimes i wonder if you are not pushing it a bit too far by saying that the level of exams we are having here is like CPE compared to what you had in those days…
coz.. after doing SC.. i found SC papers that came afterwards very easy.. so as hsc papers after i finished my hsc… maybe its just…all in the mental of ppl.
Okie.. i don’t say papers in those days or other places are not tougher.. though.. the level of toughness … I don’t believe that we are THAT bad bad bad.. (*rant* though many papers are based on ‘by the book’ answers.. so is the whole education system here).. but.. well.. its life, its just yet another system, we only have to try to find a hole and exploit it.. that’s the test of life. :p
I just read the comments above. hmm, you are having legends that are starting to post on your blog now! :p. amen.
agreed entirely with what csyke said above also.
By the way I meant “socialist” rather than “leftist” and I Fully agree with you. I think that for too long Mauritians have been treated like spoilt children who have never been told that at some point in your life you have to earn a living and you can’t get everything by just throwing some tantrums when you were a child. Politicians are paying the price for this attitude now as they can’t even make people realise the international context we have to operate in.
Speaking of brain drain every under 30 that you meet in Mauritius wants to go to Canada, Australia, New Zealand, UK, Ireland etc. and I don’t blame them. There’s a perpetual sense of loss in this country and people are scared, confused and can’t see light at the end of the tunnel. Unfortunately those who are supposed to manage this and reassure them are too busy campaigning for the next election. In fact it seems that some people are perpetually in campaign mode.
Allow me to have a Mauritian versions of this saying.
Those who can do.
Those who can’t do anything go into politics ….
Cry beloved country, cry
Hackers and Fighters, is a very inspiring article… maybe we should get first years to read that stuff!
the analogy between the street programmers and fighters is real nice… being a confirmed martial artist does not necessarily mean that you will react as needed when you are assaulted on the streets, idem for programmers, even when you complete your degree, placed in the business world, you might not be able to survive…
hence the importance of practical experience, exchanges with people from the industry, and la cerise sur le gateau, CURIOSITY!
Do we need a kind of Eta Kappa Nu here in Mauritius? Is this a good idea?
But i n reality only one thing is important in life, it is self realisation> Without n it , life is not possible