I wanted to write about how my experiences and learning from the classroom are helping me in my internship. I really wanted to. I’ve thought about it for days. I cannot.
Day one of this internship:
- Sat down.
- Read email.
- Registered Twilio Application.
- Wrote PHP script with GET and POST requests.
- Made a looping MySQL UPDATE query.
That was before lunch.
My point is that I had never registered an API, written more than a line of PHP, or a single MySQL query before that day. I learned how to do these things so quickly because I was motivated and because learning is my specialty. School hadn’t prepared me for this… well… maybe the sitting and the reading email part.
Warning: RANT AHEAD
School did not teach me how to learn either. It gave me mounds of work that forced me to get better at managing my time. College courses have shown me where to look and what terms to use and I have found the resources and done the learning myself.
The most beneficial class for me was my first college computer science course, CSC 226: Software Design and Implementation. It was here that I learned my first object oriented “modern” programming language, Python. Before I had plenty of experience with block style programming in Scratch, I had dabbled in Racket but I hated how hard it was. Python struck a chord with me and the class taught me the basics. Google would teach me the rest.
After that course, I would place my CSC 236: Data Structures in the rank of most valuable. While the course was painfully slow going, I managed to strengthen my OOP and picked up a few useful algorithms and data structures.
After these two courses, however, the law of diminishing returns began to set in. I haven’t found the huge time and work commitment worth the value I’ve received from other 300 – 400 level courses from the Berea College Computer Science Department (Namely Electricity and Electronics, Computer Organization, and Computational Intelligence ).
I enter a course excited, curious, begging for more. The course is slow, I research and learn on my own time. Next, I’m bored because I learned this last week from a MIT lecture on YouTube in an afternoon, now I have to listen to the ramblings of a professor for two hours or else I’ll loose participation points.
What is most frustrating is the amount of “busy work” I am forced to do. Whether it’s expanding a lab report that could be written in 3 paragraphs to 3 pages, or writing in a class forum about how we “feel” about a news story or TED talk, this busy work is not valuable and it detracts from the time I have to devote to learning. These are the kinds of assignments that I get terrible grades on because I either don’t do them or give them little effort.
I realized that professors may interpret this as the assignment being to hard. The goal of an assignment is not to be difficult or “hard”. It should be focused, provide value, be challenging, rewarding, and a teaching experience.
On a side note: Deadlines should be strictly enforced and code should be graded more heavily on the basis that it works. This is the way the real world is. Sparing students in school is just a way to hurt them more once they graduate.
This was a very long and “ranty” post. It’s something that I’ve been stewing on for a while.