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Education Programming United Kingdom

Telegraph Contributor Says Coding Is For Exceptionally Dull Weirdos 453

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the more-like-exceptionally-exciting-weirdos dept.
mikejuk writes "The UK Government is trying to figure out how to teach children to code by changing what is taught in schools. The Telegraph, a leading UK newspaper, has put the other side of the case: Coding is for 'exceptionally dull weirdo(s).' The recent blog post by Willard Foxton is an amazing insight into the world of the non-programming mind. He goes on to say: 'Coding is a niche, mechanical skill, a bit like plumbing or car repair.' So coding is a mechanical skill — I guess he must be thinking of copy typing. 'As a subject, it only appeals to a limited set of people — the aforementioned dull weirdos. There's a reason most startup co-founders are "the charming ideas guy" paired with "the tech genius". It's because if you leave the tech genius on his own he'll start muttering to himself.' Why is it I feel a bout of muttering coming on? 'If a school subject is to be taught to everyone, it needs to have a vital application in everyday life — and that's just not true of coding.' Of course it all depends on what you mean by 'vital application.' The article is reactionary and designed to get people annoyed and posting comments — just over 600 at the moment — but what is worrying is that the viewpoint will ring true with anyone dumb enough not to be able to see the bigger picture. The same attitude extends to all STEM subjects. The next step in the argument is — why teach physics, chemistry, biology, and math (as distinct from arithmetic) to anyone but exceptionally dumb weirdos."
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Telegraph Contributor Says Coding Is For Exceptionally Dull Weirdos

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  • brace yourself (Score:2, Informative)

    by Sigvatr (1207234)
    brace yourself for 1000+ angry comments
    • Re:brace yourself (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Austrian Anarchy (3010653) on Monday October 28, 2013 @09:08PM (#45265123) Homepage Journal

      brace yourself for 1000+ angry comments

      No doubt.

      Thing is, everybody does not need to be taught coding, but they really should be at least shown how to use a computer. In the same manner that everybody does not need a mandatory engine building class, though driver's education would be nice along with the basics on how to maintain an automobile. Even that is not mandatory in these parts.

      • Re:brace yourself (Score:5, Insightful)

        by rolfwind (528248) on Monday October 28, 2013 @10:45PM (#45265599)

        I would settle for people learning some more respect for the blue collar jobs amongst us. I suspect the countries with a higher proportion of "dull weirdos" in relation to "idea guys" will be the more prosperous ones in the future. As the old saying goes, genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. Idea guys are great, but they're like the 1% inspiration. Too many of them around, and you have the "too many chiefs, not enough indians" problem rather quickly.

        • Re:brace yourself (Score:5, Interesting)

          by WaywardGeek (1480513) on Monday October 28, 2013 @11:53PM (#45265899) Journal

          I have to tell a story... yeah... I'm old. My little bother was hot. He couldn't help it, girls just couldn't leave him alone. Someone convinced him to do modeling as a career for a while, but after missing shoots to enter skateboard contests, his modeling career was over. Still, Hallmark's "Hunk" calendar ran him as Mr April two years running.

          Anyway, while he was screwing every girl who ever wanted a hot guy, I got my engineering degree. I dated the president of the math club, and spent a night in jail for hacking phone systems. One night during summer break, my brother had something to say to me. He said, "I respect what you're doing." I knew he meant he respects what I'm doing even though any reasonable person would not. I couldn't argue with the guy living every hormone driven teenager's dream, but I thought it was funny. I was preparing to make the world a better place, but I suppose being a girl's dream date counts.

          We are geeks. There's something wrong in our minds that makes us happy spending time typing on a keyboard rather than chasing women. When I change the world in concrete measurable ways, the feeling is euphoric, and programming is the way I help change the world.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by narcc (412956)

            We are geeks. There's something wrong in our minds that makes us happy spending time typing on a keyboard rather than chasing women.

            What a ridiculous negative stereotype. Just because you spent your teens and early 20's behind a keyboard doesn't mean that the rest of us were socially awkward introverted weirdos.

            I found plenty of time for girls. I suspect many other "geeks" did as well. It was not an either-or scenario.

            What you really want to say is "I had a crummy adolescence, but it's only because I was super-smart!" Which is ... very sad.

            Stop spreading that ridiculous myth! Back to your parents basement with you!

            • Re:brace yourself (Score:5, Informative)

              by gstoddart (321705) on Tuesday October 29, 2013 @12:59AM (#45266163) Homepage

              What you really want to say is "I had a crummy adolescence, but it's only because I was super-smart!" Which is ... very sad.

              Stop spreading that ridiculous myth!

              But ... but ... it's the only thing that soothes the crushing existential pain. ;-)

              And, for the record, I think it could be a generational thing -- because up through high-school, interest in computers was a very rare thing for all but the highly nerdy, and in university my comp. sci classes to begin with were pretty much made up of the socially awkward introverted weirdos across the board, at least the ones who passed; the rest some how ended up not continuing on. But over the span of a few years I could see differences and see that the classes had a slightly different makeup of people.

              But in the early 80s, the people who were geeks, pretty much were the stereotypical archetypes. They hadn't yet invented the jock-geek subspecies I saw come a long much later, and the rocker-geek subspecies was a cultural impossibility at the time.

              Believe it or not, for some of us (to varying degrees), that myth wasn't as far from the truth as one might think. Of course, the nerd umbrella also included that one autistic kid in the school, the music geeks, and the fat guy with adenoids. Not all the nerds were into computers -- but the egregious social awkwardness was unmistakable from orbit. ;-)

              So, show some care -- for some of us, Breakfast Club is a surprisingly accurate depiction of the social strata in schools in the 80s. Some of us related to that 'myth' more than anything else, even if it is a little cliche. :-P

              • Re:brace yourself (Score:4, Informative)

                by kermidge (2221646) on Tuesday October 29, 2013 @03:01AM (#45266567) Journal

                Indeed. I saw the same thing at MSU in East Lansing during the mid to late '60s, then watched the shifts you mentioned over the next few decades.

                At the time I attended, the geeks were lumped as "the math-dorm-ADS-crowd". ADS - Alumni Distinguished Scholar scholarship competition and award, dorms because in those years of _in loco parentis_ the first two years had to be lived on campus unless you were married - the geeks mostly didn't object much; math is obvious (no degree yet in computer science), and crowd used ironically. Outward signs include glasses, pocket protectors, and slide rules - oft-times hanging from a belt clip.

                And your observation on 'the big lumping together' is spot on. There are some sub-species of geek these days but I expect overall there's still the big lumping to achieve efficiency of disdain.
                ----
                Back then, the distinction we had in our own minds, when it needed to be used, was between computer scientists and data-processing professionals (it was all D.P. then), and maybe hacker - the guys and gals at three in the morning between floors pulling cable as readily as coding over a hiccup in the batch scheduler. Today, it's more by level of abstraction when you get to the programming portion. I think most use it in their own heads even if unawares. (many liberties taken, below...)

                There's the program designer - the software architect, project lead, whathaveyou. Takes goal or task and limns it. The big picture part. Goals, tests, milestones, org chart, flow chart, etc. Interfaces management.

                The programmer - breaks it on down to modules, subs, the 'what has to happen here' and 'how this fits into'. Points out gotchas.

                The coder - yeah. Nuts and bolts. We'd like to presume he can test and validate input and double-check with programmer to avoid gaping barn doors of security problems. He's often the lucky fellow who gets to do the documentation because the programmer can't be bothered with things that are beneath him.

                And all three layers of abstraction and in-group societal roles are often right between our own ears. Can be distracting but makes it easy to say, "hey, we could move this over here and save a bunch on inter-process comms" or "y'know, if we took this other approach, we could eliminate this whole section and also streamline the alternative."

                Of course, that only works in the old days or for small projects. Anything else can be a right charley-foxtrot no matter what.

                Now, for the guy who regards the whole thing the same as plumbing or carpentry... point to the weather app on his phone.

                "See this? Tap, and you get a weather report and forecast?"
                Yeah.
                "Wanna know how they do that?", glance at watch, "In three and a half minutes; impress your friends?"
                Yeah, ok.
                Then show him - languages, stuff that can be grabbed from sources and tables, what has to be written from scratch, how it all fits in a program on phone, on a server somewhere, a bit on how it's displayed, call up a page of code from anything so he can see how weird and arcane it is... and you're done. [Warning: it really should all be done in the three and a half minutes. Because you said so, and it's also impressive as all get out.]
                "Hey, I'm dry, ready for a brew?" get him one, maybe he gets you one, talk about other stuff or move on. Either way, you've done your part to pass on some stuff, get some cred, make _him_ feel in the know and that's huge - and he's a bit more aware and maybe not so ready to be so easily dismissive in future.

                Congrats - you've made cross-species contact. And a friendly-wave-in-passing acquaintance down at the local. Networking, man, and good human fun also.

            • Re:brace yourself (Score:4, Insightful)

              by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Tuesday October 29, 2013 @02:02PM (#45272139) Homepage Journal

              Not a myth. I see very smart kids get bullied pretty regularly simply becasue they are interested in things above the heads of most the people in their class.

            • by Catbeller (118204)

              It's a valid, universal observation that geeks tend not to be those dating the girls that don't date geeks. Truth is okay.

              There are a few of you geeks who aren't like that - bless you for choosing attractive parents; but stereotypes exist for a reason. Those who are introverted, and/or unattractive, and find fulfillment behind keyboards, aren't extroverts. They are not the same kind of people, tho of course they exist on a spectrum. Introverts = not dating as much, Extrovert = dating more than that.

              Thanks b

        • by Tassach (137772)

          Anyone who's worked for a company that uses the Mongolian Hoarde technique [catb.org] of software development can tell you that "not enough Indians" (literally) isn't the problem.

      • by clockwise_music (594832) on Monday October 28, 2013 @11:45PM (#45265865) Homepage Journal
        I play guitar in a rock band named Toehider [tumblr.com] - we supported Devin Townsend [hevydevy.com] last month. It rocked.

        I've interviewed the guys in Dream Theater, Trivium, Machine Head & Megadeth.

        I've found over 300 geocaches, quite a few of them in other countries (Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, China).

        I mix sound at my church, lead one of the bands and play drums in another band. I'm teaching myself piano at the moment.

        I've produced video clips for my own music and had them shown on TV. I've performed my own compositions on TV (thanks "Guitar Gods"!)

        I've had a few of my songs featured on "The angry video game nerd" episodes and released an album of them on iTunes. I'm working on a second album.

        I was interviewed for ABC TV's "Good Game" last year.

        I'm writing a few iphone apps at the moment.

        I've worked for tiny non-for-profits, huge corporations, energy companies, travel companies, entertainment companies & beer companies (man that one was goooood, free beer thursday and fridays!!).

        I regularly drive my wife nuts by constantly picking up a new hobby every 6 months and then moving onto the next one.

        I'm still trying to work out how I can live with myself, being so boring. In fact I think I'll just fall asleeeeeeeeep.

        And BTW, all of my programming friends are just as interesting. Just like you guys on slashdot. You're ace too. Stay cool, your pal, LB.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Question: Why do we try to make software development a widely available skill? Clearly many people don't want to learn it, and forcing them to learn it anyway just creates negative associations. Later on, these people who don't want to program will still be available to do the job, badly, reducing the quality of software for everybody and lowering the pay for those who want to program and can actually do a good job of it.

        I can see the benefit of being able to analyze and structure problems in most non-progr

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by houstonbofh (602064)
      But a thousand useless comments...
      You can not stop the ignorant from promoting ignorance.
    • Re:brace yourself (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Ksevio (865461) on Monday October 28, 2013 @10:03PM (#45265417) Homepage
      This would be the perfect example where articles could by moderated as "Troll"
    • Re:brace yourself (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Opportunist (166417) on Monday October 28, 2013 @10:05PM (#45265427)

      Not really angry. More disappointed.

      This, ladies and gentlemen, is why we don't get any kind of respect in management. Because that's what they see in us: The computerized equivalent of plumbers and bricklayers. The fact that they couldn't wrap their feeble minds around a tenth of what we have to understand intimately doesn't matter. What matters is that we're notoriously bad at marketing. Self-marketing, too.

      I guess I'm not the only one who is amazed again and again how simple, trivial concepts can be impossible to grasp for allegedly intelligent people. And of course I consider what I can do fairly trivial because, well, let's be honest, it is. Still, there is an amazingly small subset of the human species that can even begin to understand what I'm actually doing. My move to management was quite an eye opener, and it showed me just HOW much people at the C-Level don't really understand about their company.

      But they're good at self marketing. They're great at selling their ability that parallels the feat of being able to eat your lunch without spilling half of it on your tie as the biggest achievement in human history. Because, well, in a nutshell, "management skills" are trivial, at best. I was at first very intimidated by the idea that I should now "manage". Turns out it's not that much different from what you have to do anyway while you actually should be programming, just leave out doing some sensible work and you got it.

      And that's simply what it boils down to: Techs are really bad at self marketing. We still mostly rely on getting the job done and getting it done well and hoping that people will notice. Bullshit, people don't care. People only listen to the loudmouth who keeps tooting his own horn.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        This, ladies and gentlemen, is why we don't get any kind of respect in management. Because that's what they see in us: The computerized equivalent of plumbers and bricklayers. The fact that they couldn't wrap their feeble minds around a tenth of what we have to understand intimately doesn't matter.

        And conversely, they have no clue what obstacles we face or why we claim our jobs are difficult. "So, yeah, can you also have it map each email address to the sender's DNA and use the link to record their conversations at home and send them to me sorted by topic? I'll need that by Thursday, or if you can get to it earlier that would be even better. I realize this was just intended to generate order confirmation emails, but it could be so much more if you'd only be willing to put some thought into it!"

      • This, ladies and gentlemen, is why we don't get any kind of respect in management. Because that's what they see in us: The computerized equivalent of plumbers and bricklayers.

        That's what happened to me today. I got a frantic call from the front desk. "Help, I can't print a recept - on any of 3 printers." Freeze. Deer in the headlights. Not a clue. The document in question was a PDF file displayed within a PDF reader. I quickly tried 2 printers and failed. The obvious solution, at least to me was to save the file to the desktop, then to a USB drive, then sneaker-net it over to my machine and print from there. Rebooted and the problem went away. Would anyone else have thought to s

      • by ruir (2709173)
        Not only coders. I worked as a technical consultants for years for a consulting firm. It payed above average, however pure technical consultants (or for that matter, technical subcontractors) were seen as lowly, simply because people in the upper management only understood management and pretty reports. Anyone who didn't migrate to that "stage" didn't get senior state, period. They went so far of their way, even lying in public about technical people that would be promoted to senior state soon, once they go
      • Re:brace yourself (Score:4, Insightful)

        by roeguard (1113267) on Monday October 28, 2013 @11:42PM (#45265849)

        Not really angry. More disappointed.

        This, ladies and gentlemen, is why we don't get any kind of respect in engineering. Because that's what they see in us: glorified self marketers. The fact that they couldn't wrap their feeble minds around a tenth of what we have to understand intimately doesn't matter. What matters is that we're notoriously bad at coding. Self-marketing, too.

        I guess I'm not the only one who is amazed again and again how simple, trivial concepts can be impossible to grasp for allegedly intelligent people. And of course I consider what I can do fairly trivial because, well, let's be honest, it is. Still, there is an amazingly small subset of the human species that can even begin to understand what I'm actually doing. My move to engineering was quite an eye opener, and it showed me just HOW much people in development don't really understand about their company.

        But they're good at coding. They're great at selling their ability that parallels the feat of being able to write out a couple lines of gibberish as the biggest achievement in human history. Because, well, in a nutshell, "computer programming skills" are trivial, at best. I was at first very intimidated by the idea that I should now "program". Turns out it's not that much different from what you have to do anyway while you actually should be doing the normal day-to-day work, just leave out communicating that work to others and you got it.

        And that's simply what it boils down to: management is really bad at writing code. We still mostly rely on getting the job done and getting it done well and hoping that people will notice. Bullshit, people don't care. People only listen to the loudmouth who keeps tooting his own horn.

        If you don't make any effort to appreciate how difficult and important skillful management is, how can you expect understanding from the other side of the aisle? Just because someone is over a team or has the word "manager" in their title doesn't mean they know what they are doing any more than a half of the coders out there -- be honest, at least half the code you read is garbage. It doesn't mean that coding is a trivial skill any more than management is a trivial skill. If anything, it proves the opposite.

      • by mark-t (151149)

        It's very easy to take something for granted when it's doing what you expect. People notice bugs in software, they don't notice that it's doing what it's supposed to.

        This is why I think it's so hard to get respect as a software developer... what we do is often completely invisible to most people.

      • by ArbitraryName (3391191) on Tuesday October 29, 2013 @12:34AM (#45266049)

        The computerized equivalent of plumbers and bricklayers.

        Plumbing and masonry are skilled trades. An apprenticeship in either of those trades is a few years, easily the equivalent of a college degree. And that's just to get a journeyman ticket. So, yeah. Programmers are about in line with that.

      • Re:brace yourself (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Kjella (173770) on Tuesday October 29, 2013 @01:38AM (#45266287) Homepage

        I've got a pretty good idea of what I'm doing and programming computers well does require a lot of skill that's borderline autistic in the real world. I'm sure your teachers too did some kind of "How dumb can a computer be?" exercise where you tried instructing the teacher to put jam on a piece of bread and he tried acting as dumb as possible making you Lay. Out. Each. Step. Exactly. Computers are like that and we accept that, you've got nobody to blame but yourself because it did exactly what you told it to. But the rest of the world isn't like that, if coworkers or a dog or a three year old showed the same utter inability to work out the details we'd start wondering if there was something wrong with their intelligence, not ours. If the recipe says a cup of sugar, you don't throw the cup itself in the mix.

        The same goes for the ability to anticipate every possible unexpected and improbable circumstance that might occur, normal people might think ahead on what they'd do in a few common or anticipated situations but a computer expects you to Lay. Out. Every. Exception. Exactly. In real life for one you'd never get out get door but even if you did it'd be in full survival gear in case you fell into a sinkhole and you'd still fail because the road was blocked and you didn't plan any alternative routes. For most people most of the time they'll simply cross that bridge when they get to it, there's no need to go all OCD and plan out everything in excruciating detail ahead of time. Yet that's what we have to do because the computer is utterly unable to deal with any situation on its own without instructions.

        Finally normal people don't manage resources like programmers do, if they're cooking dinner they collect the pots and pans and other utensils they need from where ever they were put last and clean them if necessary. Even with managed languages where you don't have to free the memory used, you still need to destroy the objects you create, close the connections you opened, release the locks you've gotten and Manage. Every. Resource. Exactly. Everything must be kept track on in detail and put back in exactly the same place in exactly the same state as you found it. If you had a kitchen managed like a computer I'd say you were suffering from massive OCD, not just having it tidy and keeping things in the usual places. A cooking process doesn't die because one thing is out of place, a computer process does.

        Of course you could say that's two different settings that you turn on when you get to work and turn off when you go home, but we're not machines and we can stop caring and be a slob at home but it still changes how we think. A lot of it is simply mental training, because you need to plan out so far ahead in such detail it naturally translates to every other situation you come across in life too. Personally I'd like the ability to live a bit more in the moment, to lose that "big picture" and just live in the here and now and not care so much about tomorrow. There is such a thing as overthinking it and it tends to be a bit of a party pooper, have fun today and worry about the hangover tomorrow. Too much rationality is dull.

        • Well, I didn't have a teacher. I had a computer. My dad knew nothing about those things back when he bought me my first one, but he know they are "the future" and so I needed one. Still I'm incredibly thankful for that gift.

          I caught on pretty quickly. Computers and I work well together, mostly because of my OCD, having to plan EVERY SINGLE POSSIBLE way something could turn out. I hate surprises, and the obsession to have a plan for everything and every kind of possible event sure helped my ability to come u

    • by epyT-R (613989)

      Having a baseline understanding of four function math (for finance), physics (mechanical advantage, kitchen/garage safety, home maintenance), biology (disease prevention, first aid), and even gym class (health fitness), is a requisite for living life even if the student never touches an equation again after high school.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 28, 2013 @09:06PM (#45265095)

    C'mon slashdot, aren't you better than this?

  • The same for you (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 28, 2013 @09:06PM (#45265103)

    I imagine writing news editorials all day is only for exceptionally dull weirdo's as well. At least when my work is done there is something useful to come out of it.

  • Hey! (Score:4, Funny)

    by JThaddeus (531998) on Monday October 28, 2013 @09:08PM (#45265119)
    I resemble that!
  • Dull Weirdo Here (Score:4, Insightful)

    by watice (1347709) on Monday October 28, 2013 @09:08PM (#45265121)
    I would venture to say newspapers like the Telegraph are for exceptionally dull weirdos. Everyone else uses twitter & the web.
    • I would venture to say newspapers like the Telegraph are for exceptionally dull weirdos. Everyone else uses twitter & the web.

      But they are on the web. That is why they posted such a silly story.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I would venture to say newspapers like the Telegraph are for exceptionally dull weirdos. Everyone else uses twitter & the web.

      A dull weirdo is someone who sees science, math and computing and isn't in awe of it, hungry to know more. I pity anyone who lives their life without any curiosity about the world around them. It makes the world a very small place when all you care about is writing crap articles in a blog and how many scheckles you've accumulated.

  • I know how to... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MouseTheLuckyDog (2752443) on Monday October 28, 2013 @09:08PM (#45265125)

    Change gthe oil in my car, add radiator fluid, fix a tire. I also know how to unclog a drain.

    So if coding is so routine, then everyone should know how to do.

    PS: A lot of effort has been made to allow the masses to code. COBOL, VB/VBA come to mind. If it is so mechanical why the effort?

    • by girlintraining (1395911) on Monday October 28, 2013 @09:41PM (#45265291)

      So if coding is so routine, then everyone should know how to do.

      I love how this asshole is saying code has no practical value, and yet the only reason said asshole has a job is because someone coded the OS, web server, browser, the routers and switches, and the website itself that he's posting from to claim this.

      The thing about society is that every job is important. We need janitors as much as we need CEOs. We need specialist labor as much as general. I mean, we entered a new age in human history -- the Information Age, because most of us are now specialists of one kind or another. This dinosaur is still living in the Industrial Age where you only needed a few schmoot people, and the rest you could (sometimes literally) just feed into the machines.

      • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Monday October 28, 2013 @10:30PM (#45265535) Journal

        ... the only reason said asshole has a job is because someone coded the [infrastructure] that he's posting from to claim this.

        Actually, the Telegraph is an old line newspaper.

        Granted it's one of the few that has established a strong Web presence. But, like other old-line papers, it's having serious business model problems, as the readership abandons mainstream "news is really infotainment-like art product" operations for actual reporting of information on the Internet.

        So those coders have created the juggernaut that is crashing his opportunities for employment.

        I read his posting as sour grapes, taking a swipe at the people he sees as a threat.

      • I love how this asshole is saying code has no practical value, and yet the only reason said asshole has a job is because someone coded the OS, web server, browser, the routers and switches, and the website itself that he's posting from to claim this.

        It's worse than that, he also says:

        subject is to be taught to everyone, it needs to have a vital application in everyday life

        I for one would not want to live in that world. In his world:

        We should teach exactly enough English to allow th filling of forms required

    • by iamgnat (1015755)

      Change gthe oil in my car, add radiator fluid, fix a tire. I also know how to unclog a drain.

      There was a day when those things were difficult and specialized but the tools have been made easier to use and more common over time. The same will happen with programming (and has been happening since the first program was written).

      So if coding is so routine, then everyone should know how to do.

      PS: A lot of effort has been made to allow the masses to code. COBOL, VB/VBA come to mind. If it is so mechanical why the effort?

      There is a difference between framing a wall in an otherwise finished house and framing the house itself. There is a difference between changing your oil and rebuilding your engine. Just because some tasks in a job really are (or should be) simple enough that anyone with a clue

  • by bmo (77928) on Monday October 28, 2013 @09:10PM (#45265129)

    The article is reactionary and designed to get people annoyed and posting comments

    So it's flamebait and clickbait? So why post it here? There are plenty of dolts like him and we don't have to respond to them all. Don't feed the troll.

    --
    BMO

  • by noobermin (1950642) on Monday October 28, 2013 @09:10PM (#45265131) Journal

    ...should be left to self-absorbed narcissists?

    In any case, RTFA, I think I'd need to see the policy he is critizing to judge it, but it does sound a bit ambitious especially for the age group he claims it's for.

    Nonetheless, he's a ignorant ingrate.

  • by manu0601 (2221348) on Monday October 28, 2013 @09:14PM (#45265163)
    The criticism applies to any field. In order to get good at something, most people need to work on it to acquire skills and knowledge.History? Dull and weirdos. Philosophy? Dull and weirdos. Sport? Dull and weirdos. And so on.
  • "if the subject is to be taught to everyone, it needs to have a vital application in everyday life"

    Coding isn't for everybody and I think this great race to turn every kid into a programmer because that will magickly make 'em smart is overblown.

    Somehow "we" had no idea how to use computers because none of us were programmers first and instead had such things as segas and nintendos and had no idea how to use them... or learn the complexity of computer operating so much to be able to use a joystick with 8 but

    • by Nemyst (1383049)
      It's not about "turning every kid into a programmer", it's about exposing them to as many things as possible. This is how they can form opinions on what they want to do with their life, it's how they find hobbies and passions, it's how they learn. The more varied we can get education, the better.
  • by rsilvergun (571051) on Monday October 28, 2013 @09:16PM (#45265177)
    sinking millions into teaching every kid to code is a waste. Better to focus on math, which is the hard part of programming. Stringing together for loops isn't rocket science. That said, it does require a certain amount of skill, and I'm sure companies are tired of paying for that skill. This new push to get everyone coding is really just a bunch of rich $@$#s trying to get cheaper programmers on the public dime :(.
    • by turbidostato (878842) on Monday October 28, 2013 @09:31PM (#45265239)

      "Better to focus on math, which is the hard part of programming."

      There you have an argument. I'm not saying a good one, but an argument: let's use programming as a way to reach to math.

      On the other hand, coding is a way of expression. Arguably, coding makes you more expressive, in ways neither natural language nor maths can allow being kindof a middle ground between them.

    • by darkwing_bmf (178021) on Monday October 28, 2013 @10:10PM (#45265453)

      "Better to focus on math, which is the hard part of programming."

      How about focusing on logic? That's the real key to programming. Well, that and reading instruction manuals.

    • by ruir (2709173)
      I have no idea why they don't sink billions to make every kid a doctor or a rocket scientist. Asides from the sarcasm, sinking money in education is a well-known loophole to feed money to certain organisations that go hand-in-hand with power, namely the Catholic Church in strong Catholic countries like Spain and Portugal.
  • Great flame bait (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Bottle Washer (1031590) on Monday October 28, 2013 @09:17PM (#45265179)
    There are a lot of names people can use to describe programmers ( I am one ) but exceptionally dull weirdos made me smile because of its obvious trolling. It is amazing how many people will get angry at him when really it is more comical than anything.
  • I was just thinking about 15 minutes ago that I had a very enjoyable day doing some real coding.

  • by Dzimas (547818) on Monday October 28, 2013 @09:21PM (#45265195)
    Listen, the guy who wrote this blog piece for the Telegraph didn't grow up to become a doctor,engineer, astronaut, scientist or programmer. He writes op-ed pieces for a newspaper. According to LinkedIn, he holds an LLB in law, then pursued an MSc in Business Entrepreneurship and followed up with a brief tenure as a music festival coordinator, PR agency account exec and finally became a freelance TV presenter and magazine editor. It might just be that he considers technically gifted individuals to be "exceptionally dull weirdos" simply because he doesn't understand what they're saying.
  • Rich (Score:3, Funny)

    by Horshu (2754893) on Monday October 28, 2013 @09:28PM (#45265233)
    Coming from a professional panty-sniffer.
  • Where would we be without idiots like this to make us feel smart? The same place but feeling less smart.
  • by wvmarle (1070040) on Monday October 28, 2013 @09:35PM (#45265259)

    Interestingly he mentions:

    There's a reason most startup co-founders are "the charming ideas guy" paired with "the tech genius".

    Of course, there is a reason for that. And it's not that programmers are dull weirdo's. That one statement totally undermines anything negative he has to say about coders. The guy with charming ideas is nothing without a genius coder to implement them. And the coder indeed needs the ideas guy to suggest what he's going to code, and how it's going to look like. One can't do without the other, and so it goes in so many fields of work.

    Of course there is no need to make just everyone a skilled coder. I'd like to see schools teach at least the basics of coding, so kids know the existence of the field and what it's used for, but no need for more than that, unless the kid wants it.

    And for being "dull weirdo's"? Well one thing what makes a good coder is the ability to concentrate deeply and focus on single subjects for a prolonged period of time. And that's exactly the quality that makes those people "dull" (thinking of just a single subject) and "weirdo" (being able to close one off from the outside world) in the eyes of people that do not have that specific quality.

    • by timeOday (582209) on Monday October 28, 2013 @11:37PM (#45265817)

      The guy with charming ideas is nothing without a genius coder to implement them. And the coder indeed needs the ideas guy to suggest what he's going to code, and how it's going to look like. One can't do without the other, and so it goes in so many fields of work.

      Sure, but in the end, the face man (let's call him "Jobs") is going to be a billionaire, whereas the coder ("Woz", if you will) is going to go a few years making $80K at the company he co-founded, and then get fired by Jobs to make way for dozens of other younger, cheaper Wozzes.

      • by girlintraining (1395911) on Tuesday October 29, 2013 @12:28AM (#45266035)

        Sure, but in the end, the face man (let's call him "Jobs") is going to be a billionaire, whereas the coder ("Woz", if you will) is going to go a few years making $80K at the company he co-founded, and then get fired by Jobs to make way for dozens of other younger, cheaper Wozzes.

        It is fortunate then that the Wozzes of the world are not so easily discouraged. Jobs' legacy is that he became rich at the expense of so many others, lived a life of vanity and turtleneck sweaters, and then bargained with the devil to gain a few more years of that life when sickness came for him, arranging secret operations that skirted the law. He was hated by all who worked for him, and his empire is already starting to crumble, and he hasn't been in the ground pushing daisies for all that long either.

        But Woz... He helped to kick off the start of the information age. That's something he can tell his children, and his children's children. It is something that those who care about history will remember. But even if they don't, even if history forgets the name Steve Wozniac, he contributed something that genuinely was for the betterment of all mankind.

        And that's why the Wozzes of the world get up every day, brush their teeth, comb their hair back, put on their work shoes, and drive the long road into work; They don't care about recognition, they care about contribution. So it has been with all the truly great people down through history. And that is why what Jobs built is already crumbling -- it was just a effigy to his own greatness -- while what Woz built, the personal computer, has lifted over a billion people into the information age already and dramatically altered the course of human history. Apple will eventually die; but the personal computer -- I think that will live on for a very, very long time.

      • by u38cg (607297) <calum@callingthetune.co.uk> on Tuesday October 29, 2013 @04:35AM (#45266925) Homepage
        Woz wasn't fired. He left of his own volition, and is still an Apple employee and still draws a salary.
  • At least in my job -- call center management -- people need to learn how to use spreadsheets effectively, as well as simple coding techniques (for scripting). It is endlessly useful to me that I can do those things. I've personally automated a lot of our current systems and saved endless man-hours.
    • must be nice. At my job, whenever I script something, I never tell anyone for fear of (again) being told that it's "not approved" and "against policy". A few days ago I had a ticket to add 50+ to a cisco wireless guest system, mainly because no one else wanted to touch it because they only know how to do it by hand. Dumping the CVS took a few seconds, it too way longer to replicate 50 tickets and change each name by hand and individually close them all...and don't even get me started about our HPSM that
  • Understanding (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EmperorOfCanada (1332175) on Monday October 28, 2013 @09:44PM (#45265303)
    I find many people who have an "artistic" background simply don't understand us technical types. This lack of understanding seems to frustrate them. I think that technically minded people don't mind not knowing the details of other technical areas, as they know that they could learn them if they cared to. But for artistic types they see technical stuff as a dark art. This leads to a huge source of frustration when they have to step into our area such as working a ticket kiosk, their laptops, their home router, the dashboard in their cars, or write articles about things like thorium reactors.

    After a while they start to think that the various bad interface designs are a conspiracy against them; this is only compounded when a technical type reaches over and helps them with a flick of a single switch, and when asked why couldn't it have been designed better it becomes obvious that the technical person is hunting for a way to not say, "They assumed that you had at least a double digit IQ." and then it becomes hatred.

    Another source of frustration is the implied knowledge that the world could get by with far far fewer artists but not with far fewer engineers. It might be a less colourful world but the engines of civilization need engineers.
    • by Krishnoid (984597)

      But for artistic types they see technical stuff as a dark art.

      If it was an art, wouldn't they have some grasp of it? If you know about computing and electrical engineering, you can explain how things work down to the electron level. Someone else performing the same actions on a computer can produce identical results.

      Art, on the other hand, never produces the same results from different people, and you can't step someone through things in the same way you do things, and yet artists have individual styles that carry through their pieces. Why isnt that considered a

    • This is a rather uninformed post regarding the field of computer programming. I don't mean to disrespect you, but I implore you to a) do a little more research and b) open your mind. As an "artistic" type myself, I have found that it has only helped me in the field of software development. After all, a system is an abstraction of a process, or series of processes, that represent a real world problem to be solved. The nature of that abstraction is manifested in its objects and their implementations and prope
      • Re:Understanding (Score:4, Informative)

        by EmperorOfCanada (1332175) on Monday October 28, 2013 @11:10PM (#45265687)
        You are correct. I am referring to the perception of many artistic types, especially literary types; so I agree and would state that good programmers are technicians whereas great programmers are artists. If anything it is the patterns within this art that allow us to fluently use a device that we have never seen before that was handed to us by someone who was unable to even turn it on. We all know that rebooting solves so many problems and can even hazard guesses as to what is happening but still proceed with the incantation of reboot everything.

        But where non-technical people start to get suspicious is when we start to combine different knowledge areas. I was at a person's house when they spilled pop into their keyboard which stopped working. So I immediately unplugged it and ran it under a tap, then swung it around my head, then poured rubbing alcohol into it, then swung it around my head a bit more, then put it into a garbage bag with a half box of cheap rice, and then told them to leave it there overnight. They thought that I had gone quite mad.

        I explained that even getting the pop out would not be enough because the sugar would concentrate and gum up the keys plus the phosphoric acid would probably do a number on the circuits over the next few days, plus the solution would conduct electricity, while the water would wash away the pop, and the alcohol would displace the water, not rust the circuits, and evaporate more quickly, the rice would then speed up the evaporation of any water that was left behind.

        They were incredulous that a programmer could know so much electronics, physics and chemistry.

        The next day it was with smug satisfaction that when they plugged the keyboard back in that it didn't work. I came by knowing that it should and found that they had plugged it into the network port. It worked plus it was cleaner than ever.

        The saying that any technology sufficiently advanced will appear to be magic seems to apply now to a fair chunk of the population. We technical types are working with magic; dark and powerful magic; hence the dark arts.
    • by Drishmung (458368)
      Plus ça change... I recommend C P Snow's The Two Cultures [wikipedia.org] from 1959!

      A good many times I have been present at gatherings of people who, by the standards of the traditional culture, are thought highly educated and who have with considerable gusto been expressing their incredulity at the illiteracy of scientists. Once or twice I have been provoked and have asked the company how many of them could describe the Second Law of Thermodynamics. The response was cold: it was also negative. Yet I was asking somet

  • by Greyfox (87712) on Monday October 28, 2013 @09:51PM (#45265343) Homepage Journal
    Hmm. Journalism Degree. Work for minimum wage (or less) for your entire career. Waiters make more money than you. CS degree, sixty grand a year right out of school, most of them will be making at least six digits long before the end of their career. I enjoy being an exceptionally dull weirdo. How's journalism treating you?
    • by c0lo (1497653)

      Hmm. Journalism Degree. Work for minimum wage (or less) for your entire career. Waiters make more money than you. CS degree, sixty grand a year right out of school, most of them will be making at least six digits long before the end of their career. I enjoy being an exceptionally dull weirdo. How's journalism treating you?

      Well, think what if all non-weirdos would be able to code as dull-weirdos do? Would you still bet on the 6 digits wages?

  • Much like mathematics, our society has a tendency to treat computer programming as something exceptional. At best, it is treated as the domain of the very bright. At worse, the people who are passionate about it are seen as weirdos. That is a huge problem.

    Even though people can muddle through life without these skills, they could do a lot better if they had those skills. Take the simple matter of money. As an individual, programming (and math) can help you save money. As a business person, programming

  • who the F cares about what some telegraph contributor says? not my shirt, not gonna wear it. (alt tab back to visual studio)
  • Unlike solving integrals, analyzing Shakespeare's sonnets and knowing the difference between ionic and covalent bonds.

  • Coding is a creative process, closer to painting or writing.
    • by c0lo (1497653)

      Coding is a creative process, closer to painting or writing.

      For me lately is like carving. You know? Getting out the unnecessary and let only the beautiful lines speak for themselves.

  • This is exactly the type of blather I'd expect from academics, especially from those who've never had to learn anything about science and/or math in a college-level class. They don't understand it, they don't see any reason why they should understand it and they don't think that anything outside of their narrow specialty is at all important to anybody in the world, but they look down at everybody who isn't fascinated by the the most minute aspects of whatever navel-gazing "discipline" they've decided to ma
  • by Swampash (1131503) on Monday October 28, 2013 @10:12PM (#45265465)

    Is the state of Slashdot in 2013. Posting troll articles for ad impressions and clickbait.

  • With the BASIC, BBC computer literacy project hardware and software. So many where been offered that once in a generation access to emerging tech.
    It seems the US did *something* to ensure an uptake of their educational brands at a competitive price.
    The UK computing is now the plaything of expensive US brands, the NSA and junk encryption.
    With UK end users simply tapping, pressing and consuming US products and apps.
    Higher education teaching UK generations how to use junk US encryption and been locked in
  • by michaelmalak (91262) <michael@michaelmalak.com> on Monday October 28, 2013 @10:31PM (#45265537) Homepage

    Why is the ability to think logically the opposite of being socially persuasive?

    It's not, and in the trivium [wikipedia.org] of classical education, rhetoric follows logic and grammar.

    What if the world were filled with citizens who each combined the best of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak? There would be a lot fewer nerds in the basement grousing about social inequity (and instead doing something about it), and a lot more politicians who would be able to foresee the unforeseen consequences of Obamacare. The current power brokers would be threatened. Thus, no real education is made available in the public schools.

  • by mr_mischief (456295) on Monday October 28, 2013 @10:36PM (#45265569) Journal

    There's more than one definition of "dull". Perhaps he doesn't mean "dull" as in "dullard" or a stupid person. Perhaps he means "dull" as in unexciting and uninteresting. Being boring and poorly social is true of some programmers, but it's true of some people in lots of useful professions.

  • How do we cut this hostile bugger out of the loop? Can we modify the GPL so that he can't use that software anymore? Please, RMS?
  • by arthurpaliden (939626) on Monday October 28, 2013 @10:55PM (#45265629)
    Back in the day, well at lest up to the mid 1970 our schools taught wood working and metal working in grades 6,7, and 8 because these were life skills. You learned how to build and fix things.
  • "How would you like to wake up one morning and find your credit rating slashed?"

    Seriously...this guy is gonna get hAx0r3d something bad for that bit of mouthing off.

  • This again? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dbIII (701233) on Monday October 28, 2013 @11:05PM (#45265675)

    If a school subject is to be taught to everyone, it needs to have a vital application in everyday life

    That sort of idiocy is why they only taught the girls how to type when I went to school.

  • As it works out, the "jocks" end up in jobs that are like filling supermarket bags. The "nerds" not only have amazingly interesting jobs, but in their personal lives actually are the ones that do the extreme sports, the travel, the arts. There is this mindset that people can either be creative or analytical. The reason this idea exists is because most people that think this are neither. So most people read about fashion or follow sport but do nothing in their lives. These people need bread and circuses. Th
  • by Krishnoid (984597) on Monday October 28, 2013 @11:36PM (#45265815) Journal

    Trying to pretend that coding is the right skill for everyone is utter nonsense – for most people, it’s exponentially less useful than the basic level of IT literacy most people still lack. As far as I’m concerned, this is the real IT crisis that needs addressing.

    I expected this year's school leavers, born in 1995, and having never lived without the internet, to be brilliant with computers. Now I know better. Working with them, I've found that the opposite is often true. Many lack basic computer literacy – the “have you tried turning it off and on again?” stuff – because the education system has let them down so badly.

    Considering how many programmers fail FizzBuzz [codinghorror.com], his point about the education system failing people on basic IT literacy is relevant.

  • by beaverdownunder (1822050) on Tuesday October 29, 2013 @01:42AM (#45266295)

    Learning to code teaches children valuable logic and conceptualisation skills. Algorithms are the most straight-forward and unambiguous way to demonstrate a number of extremely useful real-world concepts.

    The intention is not that every child will grow up to be a programmer (although there may be a few prodigies who would have been undiscovered had they not been introduced to coding early.) The intention is that the skills introduced and nurtured by learning to code will help the child in other areas in adolescence and adulthood -- decision making, problem solving, logistics.

    These principles can be taught as part of other disciplines, such as mechanics, but coding is far less messy, and requires virtually no resources. You can build an 'engine' without needing oil or gasoline; you can demonstrate interactions without risking chemical accidents; you can 'dissect' an algorithm without needing to purchase hundreds of pickled toads.

    To fail to see the advantages in teaching children to code is pure ignorance.

  • by whitroth (9367) <whitroth&5-cent,us> on Tuesday October 29, 2013 @11:51AM (#45270639) Homepage

    In the late fifties, well-known essayist CP Snow gave a speech, which he rewrote into an essay, called "On the Two Cultures". The two he was speaking about were the liberal arts and the sciences. One point he made was that he knew a good number of scientists/engineers who could quote Shakespeare chapter and verse... but not a single liberal arts major who could even give the simplified version of the Three Laws of Thermodynamics.

    It's only gotten worse. The folks in charge have, overwhelmingly, never taken a hard course in their lives, esp. in science or math. They think handwaving overrides the laws of the universe... and they look at anyone who actually *knows* something, or even is interested in something that's not Approved As Cool by some PR hack, is to be looked down on. They are, of course, the ones who were the "popular kids" in class... and haven't grown at all. The rest of us... four eyes? geeks? wonks? nurds? How many denigrating names have they come up with, and I, for one, am heartily sick of it.

    You might notice what the popular kids have done to our economy.....

    Oh, and for those who have "reclaimed" geek, sorry, I know where the word comes from: carnival slang, for the usually retarded guy who made his living in the freak show, usually billed as the Wild Man of Borneo or some such, and bit the heads off live chickens (for real). Now, Newt Gingrich, who served his first wife divorce papers while she was in the hospital for chemo, or Ron Paul, who couldn't be bothered to pay his senior campaign staff last year enough, or provide healthcare for them, who let one of his senior staffers *die* because he had no healthcare... they're geeks.

                          mark

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