Fang Talks

One hundred pushups!

“What? No. Fuck you.”

It is (or at least used to be) a rather common saying, so it didn’t surprise me all that much when the lady that gave us our “Baby’s First (OOP) Programming In Java” classes used it to tell us why we needed to move repeating code into functions and yadda yadda. (Because hey, writing the same code over and over again is bad!) It didn’t surprise me, but boy did it get me steaming inside. “Y’all are a bunch of slobs, so do as I say.” That wasn’t what she said, but it felt heavily implied. And that’s stupid. Insulting your students is not a way to get them motivated, let alone a good method to steer them towards good programming practices.

Now I have no idea how prevalent that damned saying is in the “newcomer quick-list” of today (and that teacher was a bit of an oldie anyway), so it may not be a problem anymore. If I had to make a guess I’d say it’s been replaced by more direct variants, like “programmers do things the clever way” or “programmers keep it simple”. While not as negative as the “lazy” version, they’re still inherently bad sentences to use as a teaching tool. I initially typed something here on it imposing (stereotyped?) assumptions onto the students, and that being an issue if they didn’t necessarily fit what you made appear like requirements for being a programmer. But then, at least that’d let them know they have issues to fix, right?

Yes and no. Maybe. I don’t know. I’m no psychologist, I’m no teacher. But to me, a student, it feels bad to hear these kinds of generalizations be made. I wouldn’t shove it into the same category one would file “people who wear Nike’s are tools” (just an example, mind) under, but maybe the root cause comes close? Someone generalized a group you belong to, tacks a negative attribute or strict requirement on, and you feel the hit personally.
Bottom line, generalization is bad. Insulting your students in an attempt to motivate them to use good practice is worse.

And let it be said that some programming jobs are among the roughest out there. Tight deadlines, long hours, unrealistic requirements. You can say what you want, but most of us definitely aren’t lazy. (Is that a generalization? I said most! Whoops.)
~ Fang


  • Joey
    10/10/2014 (11:30 AM)

    Well, in some cases this is true from a more technical perspective.
    Specially in business applications people move to more higher and abstract languages (like c# on .net) because it is easier to do something and has more build in functionality.
    This is lazy, but allows the programmer to deliver faster as well.

    Personally I am not a fan of this trend (although I do believe in ‘use the right language for the right job’) and prefer to take a little longer writing in a lower level language, but in the end I have faster working software that is easier to debug and works on more systems.

    But even a ‘low level maniac’ like me uses languages like Python once in a while to write a small application fast (automation and such), and all because I don’t want to spend much time on it, ergo, I am lazy! :P

  • 10/10/2014 (2:25 AM)

    But people who wear Nikes ARE tools. I get what you mean though. I’ve been generalized a lot. Programmers think outside the box and come up with innovative solutions. There’s nothing wrong with that. Feel good that you’re imaginative like that.

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