This college professor knows how to make class entertaining. This was well done and well executed. Clearly some time was spent on perfecting this. Timing is spot on.
Winning Isn’t Normal is a great blog post by Jason Shen about just how much goes into being good at something. Particularly great is this quote:
Remember one thing… winning isn’t normal. That doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with winning. It just isn’t the norm. It is highly unusual … So it requires unusual action. In order to win, you must do extraordinary things.
It seems too many people forget that, and I’m certain I’m no exception to that. Putting intelligence and innate gifts aside (they only get you so far), being good at something to the point of earning any respect takes an incredible amount of effort, sacrifice and time. The old standard for being viewed as an expert was 10,000 hours of experience or 10 years. I suspect in many modern-day professions that’s way below standards.
It’s way too easy to look at the end results and overlook what goes into something. From that 2 minute Olympic performance to the 5 minute medical diagnosis etc. Even from a purely academic standpoint we rarely realize what goes into anything other than a law or medical degree, and even there most people don’t get the late nights and dragging yourself through hell it takes. Most just think about sitting through the Bar Exam and MCAT’s like another SAT and not the prep that goes into it.
Another great RSA talk by Sir Ken Robinson animated, it’s well worth the 11 minutes to watch. It’s hardly a secret how poor the education system really is and how many it fails.
I should note the intro video on his website has perhaps one of the greatest quotes I’ve heard in a while: “If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original”.
Paul Graham, whose writing I greatly admire wrote an excellent bit on College recently. Being a college student myself, I found this to be by far the most interesting thing he’s ever written (and there’s quite a bit of competition there). A few things he wrote stick out in my mind:
The way to be good at programming is to work (a) a lot (b) on hard problems. And the way to make yourself work on hard problems is to work on some very engaging project.
Couldn’t agree more, and considering that I’m a geek, this one comes rather naturally. I didn’t need to make an effort to accomplish this one, it just happened for me. I guess that’s a good thing.
In fact, the amount of math you need as a CS major is a lot less than most university departments like to admit. I don’t think you need much more than high school math plus a few concepts from the theory of computation. (You have to know what an n^2 algorithm is if you want to avoid writing them.) Unless you’re planning to write math applications, of course. Robotics, for example, is all math.
Finally someone with credibility admits this one. One of the reasons I avoided the CS major was simply my dislike of math (and more importantly the dislike it has for me). It surprises people that I know how to program without a CS degree. It surprises people even more to know that I royally stink at math (just ask any former math teacher/professor I’ve had). Nobody believes that I can code because of this… well go figure I can.
The worthwhile departments, in my opinion, are math, the hard sciences, engineering, history (especially economic and social history, and the history of science), architecture, and the classics. A survey course in art history may be worthwhile. Modern literature is important, but the way to learn about it is just to read. I don’t know enough about music to say.
I agree with the one omission of a Business degree. It goes very well with a CS degree should you pursue one. Simply for the reason that just about whatever you do with your CS degree will take advantage (if not require) it. Take for example a corporate IT department. To advance, you’ll need a business background. A small company? You can bet a business degree will prove critical to your success. Startup? Hello, that is a business. Having a product is 10% of a successful company. The other 90% of it is a good business to support, continue, sell, market, manage that product. Take a look at the dot com bubble to see why Business ranks. To his credit he does mention economic history, which is also important. No matter what you’ll be involved in business if you want to succeed. Either with a startup, or with a corporation, understanding the business implications of decisions you make are essential to how you’ll be valued as an asset.
Of slightly less interest (at least right now) is the topic of Grad school, which I agree with. Though with a business degree, it has more merit than it likely will with a CS degree.
Overall a great (and recommended) read.