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Education IT

Our Education System Is Failing IT 306

Nemo the Magnificent (2786867) writes "In this guy's opinion most IT workers can't think critically. They are incapable of diagnosing a problem, developing a possible solution, and implementing it. They also have little fundamental understanding of the businesses their employers are in, which is starting to get limiting as silos are collapsing within some corporations and IT workers are being called upon to participate in broader aspects of the business. Is that what you see where you are?"
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Our Education System Is Failing IT

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  • Heck yes... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Zelig ( 73519 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @12:07AM (#46812421) Homepage

    Most of the folks in IT are Operators of Interfaces.

    • Re:Heck yes... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by beheaderaswp ( 549877 ) * on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @12:21AM (#46812483)

      I think I agree with you. My first IT related job was transcribing sheet music into basic music code back in 1984.

      Since that time I've seen the intellectual capacity of IT workers drop consistently- while their arrogance has increased. It's a function of the field expanding so fast... in order to man departments you have to compromise on quality by hiring for specialties. Also there's the problem of industry certifications. They are not at face value bad... but those with real skills know that the certification is more or less a learning permit- while management considers it a qualification.

      In my day (I'm a year or two from 50) people made their way in IT based on ability. That was the catalyst for the entire industry. It is what built silicon valley and the economic ripples it created.

      The way I see it, we've gone from recruiting people who loved computers and played with them on their own, to hiring people who shop for a career in their educational choices. That's a path to mediocrity. Always has been- always will be.

      • Re:Heck yes... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @01:01AM (#46812701)

        Indeed. There are rare islands of skill and competence, and you always find that in them, people care and actually like working with technology. But most people that go into IT today do not have what it takes and should have stayed away.

      • Re:Heck yes... (Score:5, Informative)

        by geminidomino ( 614729 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @01:21AM (#46812775) Journal

        In my day (I'm a year or two from 50) people made their way in IT based on ability. That was the catalyst for the entire industry. It is what built silicon valley and the economic ripples it created.

        Things weren't a whole lot better then. Sturgeon's law still applies, it's just that IT as an industry has vastly expanded so that 90% is a much larger raw number now.

        Remember about the old joke about the Evil Empire, before Microsoft took the epithet?

        How do you spot an IBM field tech with a flat tire?
        He's the one on the side of the road, changing all four tires to see which one's flat.

        How do you spot an IBM field tech that ran out of gas?
        He's the one on the side of the road, changing all four tires to see which one's flat.

      • If you're willing to pay you can hire good people. It's just that the big publicly-owned Silicon Valley companies can use their funny money to pay more than you can.

        If you go to places where people are living for quality-of-life and not just money, you'll find more of the competent folks. The competent folks in sucky-places-to-live have all moved to the aforementioned corporations or nicer places to live.

        • by BVis ( 267028 )

          If you go to places where people are living for quality-of-life and not just money, you'll find...

          people who have bought into the "better quality of life is worth more than money" bullshit that Big Business has pushed onto the public. Those two go hand-in-hand, any attempt to imply otherwise is a function of employers lying to their (current and prospective) workers.

          • I'm sure he means quality-of-life things from a worker's perspective. This includes (but is not limited to) things like flex hours, telecommuting, normal hours (sad that a 40-hour workweek is a perk in IT-related fields), and other benefits.

            Money is still important, but once the salary passes a minimum threshold, I have no problem choosing a lower-paid job if it comes with other benefits I feel make up the difference.

    • Re:Heck yes... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Sique ( 173459 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @04:20AM (#46813271) Homepage
      All of the folks in IT are Operators of Interfaces. Which is nothing bad at all. If you aren't able to send 3.3 V directly from your fingertips, you need an interface to operate anything in a computer. Buttons, plugs, everything labelled I/O, shells, commands are interfaces.

      So you were saying?

    • Comp sci for all! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by zerofoo ( 262795 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @09:45AM (#46814409)

      Yep, I'm one of those "IT directors" that operates interfaces. I studied EE and graduated with a Comp Sci degree.

      Sure, I learned all about this stuff - circuits, logic, algorithms/math...etc. I ended up not making products, but implementing/using them. I understand how the spanning tree protocol in my switches uses a tree data structure to detect and eliminate loops - but do I really need that level of knowledge to be an effective IT guy?

      The reason IT guys have devolved into "operators of interfaces" is that of efficiency. I'm the sole guy here in a small school with 200 people in multiple locations depending on me to keep the lights on. I don't have time for lengthy customization or "roll your own" IT products.

      So efficiency requires that I take products out of the box "operate the interfaces" according to best practice guidelines and move on with life.

      That's just the way it is.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @12:11AM (#46812433)

    Most people think critical thinking is something that "haters" do.

    • by erikkemperman ( 252014 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @04:19AM (#46813267)

      Most people think critical thinking is something that "haters" do.

      Well, I've heard Ken Ham use the phrase, arguing that critical thinking is the goal behind pushing his own literal interpretation of Genesis into science classes. Of course he has a very particular definition, because in the next sentence he was saying that this will lead kids to "think the right way" -- which is to say, not at all critical, or even really thinking, but good old blind faith.

      In general though, study after study seems to be showing that the US, while still ahead at its most prestigious institutions, is falling behind when considering education in breadth. For instance, this [] seems to me like it should worry educators no end.

  • by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @12:12AM (#46812439) Journal

    So horrible that hardly any of the European or American young IT workers are qualified.

    Too bad there was not some way we could get around this problem. You know perhaps get around this and maybe save some money too hmm.

    Just think about how horrible it would be if CIO's and MBAs wrote such an article and published in a well known magazine that they could give to EU politicians and senators on something that needs to be done RIGHT AWAY!


    • by AK Marc ( 707885 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @12:31AM (#46812549)
      It's not about the Americans being not "qualified" but that a E/CE/CS degree is irrelevant to IT. IT is, in the most general sense, best served by a logic and philosophy/psychology degree. Every problem is solved by a binary decision tree.

      "The computer isn't working." Well, that's hardware or software. If hardware, it's an internal or external fault. If internal, it's a part failure or install failure. If part, replace part. If install, re-seat hardware. Most any problem is a set of questions, each one narrowing down the choices, until the answer is found. The ability to break down problems like that is logic. Knowing what to ask and how to respond is generaly from experience. Dealing with the people that are experiencing the problem, or designing something for them to use is a "soft" skill that a psychology or other "soft" degree might help best with.

      There isn't a good education for IT. It's never been addressed. The few places that teach "IT" generally teach to some specific certification tests, and nothing about how to apply it.
      • by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @12:39AM (#46812589) Journal

        That can't be true.

        According to HR pc techs need calculus skills as we do differential equations all day and work in polynomial time when working with tickets.

        • Bullshit. You're supposed to have the ability to stop time with thought alone. How else is HR going to get 48 hours a *day* out of you? You people are a bunch of Cheetos smacking Mountain Dew guzzling slobs. Now stare at the screen until your eye bleed!!!

      • IT is, in the most general sense, best served by a logic and philosophy/psychology degree.

        I've always thought that comp.sci. is, fundamentally, a kind of applied discrete mathematics. Kant or Spinoza are not going to be of much help, Freud and Jung even less so.

        • by Minupla ( 62455 )

          Having taken some comp sci and worked in IT for 20 years, I can state with some basis for argument, that comp sci has very little to do with IT. Probably about the most useful portion of the comp sci coursework to me now is computational efficiency (choose the o(n) solution not the o(n!) one).

          But the poster who said psych and phil wasn't far wrong. I'd add technical writing in there as a class I don't regret taking. Philosophy to come up with the right argument and psychology to make it stick, then techn

          • I think it highly depends on what those of us in this discussion think of when we say 'IT'.

            Personally I've been a network engineer, a systems administrator, a network administrator, had various titles with the word 'support' and 'technology' in their names, etc. When I think 'IT' I think of those jobs and they are a lot like playing doctor most of the time as I get a list of symptoms and need to solve the underlying problem or at least treat those symptoms if I cannot find an exact cause. Otherwise it's abo

      • It's not about the Americans being not "qualified" but that a E/CE/CS degree is irrelevant to IT. IT is, in the most general sense, best served by a logic and philosophy/psychology degree. Every problem is solved by a binary decision tree.

        No it isn't, and that fallacy is behind a lof of modern-day disfunctionality - the idea that There Can Be Only One True Answer.

        If you actually study formal logic, you'll discover that binary/boolean/Aristotelian logic is only one form of logic. There's another whole branch of symbolic logic dedicated to dealing with All/Some/None situtations.

        As the Perl people like to say, "there's more than one way to do it". The real test of critical thinking isn't merely to come up with "the" answer, it's to consider mul

      • Even in the government and defense industry the requirement for IT is Security+. Basically, what it means is every solution involving an end user is at most a 3-step solution:
        1. Wipe machine
        2. Reimage (and add user stuff, i.e. email)
        3. Return to user

        They just don't have time to really get to a real solution because you have this "industry standard" of one IT guy per 200 employees.

    • He talks about college and trade schools, but says nothing about on-the-job training.
      Businesses no longer seem willing to invest any capital in directly educating the worker they want.

      The closest we get is coordination between a college and business,
      where the business helps design the school's curriculum to provide the kind of skills the business wants.

      • by Bert64 ( 520050 )

        Largely because better trained staff will demand more pay, or will go somewhere else to get it.

        • Largely because better trained staff will demand more pay, or will go somewhere else to get it.

          Yes. But guess what? If you hire that talent from outside, you're going to have to pay them more, or they will just quit and go to work for someone else. You have to pay for talent.

          There's a fun little space station game called Startopia that is cheap on GOG, where you build in the contents of a station to serve visitors and engage in trade. You hire employees from the pool of visitors to the station. Each employee has three statistics, which are skill, dedication, and loyalty. Each stat can have zero to f

  • oh (Score:5, Informative)

    by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @12:12AM (#46812441)

    This is what happens when your field turns from a niche specialist thing where only experts will have a chance to get in... into a field where they're selling degrees during commercial breaks for Jerry Springer. You want the smarts ones, you need to pay for them.

    • Re:oh (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @12:15AM (#46812459) Journal

      You can. In India.

      The fact that MBAs and CIOs are the ones whining make me always suspicious who of course get quoted in all these articles and probably contribute to them. How convenient this propaganda can now be used and passed around to politicians to increase H1B1 visas as a response.

      Sadly many with years of experience now can be as good if not better than the native ones anyway so go cheap.

      • Oh for Christs sake don't reply to my posts with this inane anti-immigrant crap. All the Indians I work with are damn good at what they do. The problem with immigration is that people like them, that are law abiding citizens, great at what they do, and highly desirable in the workplace, aren't given immediate citizenship. If you want to come to this country, have no criminal record, and can hold a job for a year or two without incident you should be given citizenship. Immigration issues would be over and do

        • Re:oh (Score:5, Informative)

          by kaladorn ( 514293 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @12:50AM (#46812651) Homepage Journal
          I, on the other hand, have had a mixed experience with Indian workers.

          I worked on one team with 3 of them. One was female, the other two male. One of the males had a good business head and presentation and passable technical skills. The other fellow was out of his depth and was compensating by trying to talk over everyone. The gal was the smartest of the lot and new her stuff (the QC side of things) better than either of the male devs, but their cultural propensity to just marginalize or ignore the female (or try to speak for her) meant the best way to let her excel was to arrange interactions with her that did not involve the two indian males.

          On another project I worked on, offshoring a code base for a major US Telco, I will tell you that there were some smart devs (they got what I was presenting) and there were others who struggled and I don't think ever did fathom the complex code.

          Frankly, the Russians I worked with were better as far as offshore resources go - thorough, smart, logical, didn't try to claim what they didn't actually know and figured out a lot of things as required (and did a good job of being thorough).

          I think the only two objections I have overall (as a generalization) to Indian workers are a) tendency to be patriarchal and not listen to and respect females and b) a tendency to say yes to everything when it comes to 'can you do X by time Y?' even if the thing they are agreeing to do is well beyond them. They can't seem to say no or it'll take longer. Everything is yes. We learned that we could not depend on any time estimates and routinely doubled their estimates and sometimes even then had to get in and solve the problems ourselves.

          Any group of devs is going to reflect the amount and nature of their education and their cultural perspectives. Being Canadian, I've had some good fortune to work in very diverse settings with many cultural groups and nationalities. As long as you know who you are dealing with and allow for that, you can work well together.

          In the case of IT work, the skillset required for broader business aspects of that field require a broad knowledge of many technologies, a broad knowledge of business practices, and the business to treat the IT staff less like a cost center and more like a critical piece of infrastructure - provide training, support sufficient time for projects and manpower resources, and to generally not try to get the IT staff to be responsible for everything, all of the time, in all respects, with few or no resources. That's the most common failing in IT departments - how companies see them as an expense and try to minimize that to the detriment of employee quality and their overall business in the long run.
          • by ruir ( 2709173 )
            My experience with expat Indians is mixed too. I interview once one with a stellar CVs, however when talking with them it became apparent something was out of place. I did not hire him, however referred him to another firm where less technical prowess was needed. It turned out they let him go after a while for technical ability. I also had to deal, and saw the work of a team of indians doing some outsourcing work for the competition. While their manager seemed to be smart, the ability of the technicians lef
          • I don't know much about Indian IT workers (in spite of being in IT, I've had almost no experience with them) but I know many Indians who are doctors, and they're pretty damn good at what they do.

            Oh and guess what country Microsoft's new CEO was born in? He didn't make CEO by accident, nor was it the result of Microsoft wanting to be cheap by skipping over American workers for the promotion.

            IMO the reason Indians, Japanese, and Koreans do so well is because their culture values work. Here you're sent the mes

            • IMO the reason Indians, Japanese, and Koreans do so well is because their culture values work

              Do they? Do they really? Japanese values seem to work, right up until they go completely insane and fail epically. Koreans, which Koreans? Indians? Have you seen India?

              I don't think the USA is that great or anything, this isn't about that. But seriously.

          • Here's why you are wrong on all counts.
            First of all, you happen to *know 3 Indian IT* workers and you arrive at a conclusion on how good/bad/patriarchal they are. If this is not *generalization* then I do not know what is !!!
            Second, India is a large country, our population is 1 billion. There will be ten or twenty Indian IT programmers for every Russian you can find. Plus, Indian IT companies are majorly into US market, there is no Russian equivalent of an Infosys, TCS, Wipro and so on. With that large
          • My experience with Indian workers was unfortunate. I worked with 7 Indians on 4 different occasions between 4 to 6 months each. The first occasion was with 2 males. One was very aggressive and the other was submissive; however, the aggressive one liked to talk but not walk. As a result, my friend (Korean) and I (in the same team) had to do the grunt work in order to get the work done. The second time was with a male. This one was very similar to the first aggressive one I met -- talk but not walk. He promi

      • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
        Why do you hate MBAs and CIOs? Envy?
        • by iNaya ( 1049686 )
          Not really. Most of the MBAs I know have had great difficulty finding a job. There is a huge oversupply of them.
          • by ruir ( 2709173 )
            Why would I hire an MBA? For what, writing reports? The problem is not only having an oversupply of them, MBA courses are not that valuated in the technical market. I will hire instead a Linux/Cisco certified guy, thank you.
    • To be fair, they could have stopped at "Our education system is failing".

  • we need more trades / apprenticeships in IT and not CS that is a lot of theory and lacking in hands on skills.

  • Okay, let's start with my hours, salary, and other benefits... If they're going lay on extra workload, make sure there's a matching increase on the flip side.

  • by EMG at MU ( 1194965 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @12:22AM (#46812499)
    You can't blame everything on our education system.

    First, the majority of people do not possess the ability to think critically. You can't teach that skill. You can try to foster what ability a person might have but you can't turn someone with no ability to think critically into someone who exemplifies that ability. By middle school someone either can think for themselves or they can't.

    Second, why is everything the education systems fault? Why don't parents encourage their children to think critically? Why aren't parents responsible for enriching their child's development so that they develop the skills needed to succeed.

    Reality check: not all teachers think critically. There are a lot of people of average to below average intelligence / critical thinking ability that are teachers. Want great teachers? Do you want the cream of the crop? Then pay them to deal with your whiny privileged spawn instead of the much more glamorous and lucrative jobs they have. Instead of attracting the best talent we have states actively eroding teacher benefits which drives the talent away and opens the door for Teach for America type excuses for real teachers.

    Yes I agree there are a ton of people in IT and every other profession who completely lack the ability to think critically.

    No I do not blame "our education system"
    • First, the majority of people do not possess the ability to think critically. You can't teach that skill.

      uh....yes you can? I sure wasn't thinking critically when I was young, and I doubt you were either. I don't even know why you think people can't be taught this, if you do a search for "teach critical thinking" there are plenty of results on how to teach critical thinking.

      Maybe you just guessed that it's not teachable? Which ironically would be a failure to think critically.......

      • Well, I guess those courses they made me take in high school on critical thinking and logical fallacies were just a complete waste then.

        I can't take what I was taught on the Evils of Communism to Wal-Mart, either.

    • by gnoshi ( 314933 )

      First, the majority of people do not possess the ability to think critically.


      You can't teach that skill. You can try to foster what ability a person might have but you can't turn someone with no ability to think critically into someone who exemplifies that ability. By middle school someone either can think for themselves or they can't.

      No. There has been a lot of research on critical thinking in both psychology and education, looking at both the ability of people to engage in critical thinking and the extent to which it can be taught. Typically what is found is that critical thinking is not particularly innate, and that people improve considerably with teaching. Some people grasp it more readily than others, but (like a great many talents) with training and practice most people can become proficient. Quite a few university degrees (e.

    • In the U.S., critical thinking skills are acquired via the liberal arts side of the higher education system (you know, the ones the business and technical training side loves to sneer at while making jokes about burgers and fries.) We don't teach high schoolers and below how to think, we teach them _what_ to think; school in the U.S. has mostly been about socialization since the mid-20th century. Even in our higher education system, the only ones who really get critical thinking skills are the wannabe lawye

      • by khallow ( 566160 )

        critical thinking skills are acquired via the liberal arts side

        That's vile slander from the detractors of the liberal arts. How could you properly indoctrinate students in thoughtgood, if you're so far off message? There are a lot of fields, such as the victim studies where critical thinking just gets in the way.

    • by khallow ( 566160 )

      First, the majority of people do not possess the ability to think critically.

      IMHO, if they have a brain, they have the ability. Not thinking critically is not the same as not having the ability to think critically.

      Second, why is everything the education systems fault? Why don't parents encourage their children to think critically?

      Why? You just said most people don't have the ability. Encouragement from parents wouldn't change that (and would actually be a waste of the parent's time), unless the ability actually was there.

      Instead of attracting the best talent we have states actively eroding teacher benefits which drives the talent away and opens the door for Teach for America type excuses for real teachers.

      Just think (well, if you have the ability to) how much worse it must be in those countries which aren't spending as much on education per student [] as the US does - like Finland, Swe

  • He asks the question: "So why do we tolerate IT pros who don't understand the basics of how a computer or network works?".

    If someone is skilled at IT, deeply understands computers and networking, and has critical thinking skills, they can get a better job. There are few people like that anywhere. Why would they be sitting around in IT? They should be designing a router.

    And frankly speaking, they don't need to know the deep depths of how everything works. It would be silly for a hospital to demand that e

  • "Get off my lawn" (Score:5, Interesting)

    by redmid17 ( 1217076 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @12:23AM (#46812511)
    Is Slashdot linking to Bennett Haselton's dad now?
    If the IT sector were really that devoid of workers with an iota of critical thinking ability, the entire state of IT in the country would be in shambles. Now he does have some valid complaints (ie plenty of Cert WIZARDS!), but the entire article is one giant strawman he constructed. I don't think IT (or at least non H1Bs) is any worse off than any other sector of the US job market. This strikes me as a case of "this new generation sucks a lot" which we roll through every 20 years or so. The WW2 generation said the same thing about the Boomers and Gen X.

    The first track consisted of self-motivated high school and college students who taught themselves the necessary PC skills to get a job, sometimes before graduation. The second was the trade school, which produced droves of "certified" 20-somethings ripe for the picking in the rapidly growing IT field.

    My mileage will vary from most of the people here, but these two sectors make up a small minority of what I've encountered. The first "track" is essentially career service desk folk. They don't really need to think super critically. They aren't paid enough to. The ones who are very good at it end up as Tier-2 or Tier-3 support. They do triage work and respond to critical incidents. They need to know how to diagnose problems and think critically. The second track definitely exists. I've met them. I haven't seen them actively employed for the most part, and those that were employed didn't remain for long.

    The circle jerk in the comments section is pretty hilarious too.
    • This strikes me as a case of "this new generation sucks a lot" which we roll through every 20 years or so. The WW2 generation said the same thing about the Boomers...

      In that particular case, they were right!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @12:25AM (#46812519)
    Or is anything that costs a penny over a minimum wage too much? What happened to an employer investing as much time into an employee as the employee invests of his own free time? We learn plenty on our own dime just to keep up with the insane fashions in IT, why can't the employer put aside a few hours a month to show us simple IT folk what's going on?

    But I guess we're cheaper if we're terrified, eh?

    • by prefec2 ( 875483 )

      Where I am from, people could get payed leave for education purposes. Maybe such socialist ideas could help on the education side of the problem. The other is communicating the business goals and objectives to the employee, every good company should do so. As a side effect, they can learn if their plan can really be communicated. Remember, the thoughts manifest themselves when you talk about them.

  • Though I have seen a few less-badly run ones. Sometimes there's actually a competent guy in there, trying to manage a few hundred servers and dealing with constant user abuse. Sometimes there're nothing but a bunch of monkeys who will just keep trying to reboot the machines in the hopes that will somehow fix all those misconfigured servers. The single unifying theme is that there are never enough resources allocated for even the best people to do a good job in those departments. I could point to companies t
  • by slayer991 ( 3624861 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @12:37AM (#46812583)
    It isn't education, it's the lack of experience. We've outsourced so many of the entry level jobs, where are the young people supposed to learn? That's the real cost of outsourcing...without an entry-level position and ability to learn how to troubleshoot, there's no place for kids to learn how to do their jobs. Most of the really good systems engineers I know started on the help desk, worked desk-side support and then did infrastructure support (servers/network/storage/security). They understand that their jobs still come down to delivery of solutions to the end-user. They understand that the end-user doesn't care what backend BS broke, it's just that they can't do their job. We're missing that at the mid-level...and most of the really great infrastructure people are in their 40's now.
    • by khallow ( 566160 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @02:11AM (#46812911)
      It's more than just outsourcing. Most of those young people haven't worked at anything before they enter college and a lot of them don't start working till after they leave college. Going well into your adult life without actually holding any job (even one outside of IT) is pretty destructive just on its own.
      • by ruir ( 2709173 )
        Best comment I have ever read. We the older generation could not afford to go without a job. Best thing it happened for my family. My sister starting working when she was 16, I when I was 18. We have good jobs nowadays, and even better than that, our parents also managed on the process to save money, and are pretty independent with their expenses, so we dont have to also have another expense supporting them.
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @12:40AM (#46812601) Homepage

    And yet the process most of today's IT pros use to learn a skill amounts to asking somebody else how to do something.

    Well, that's progress. Progress involves not having to know how the layers underneath work. This allows operating at a higher level of abstraction. How many drivers can change a spark plug today?

    The trouble with this in software is that our abstractions are still flaky. Computer users still have to worry about bugs which allow stack overflow attacks, library bugs, backdoors in firmware, and middleware which doesn't conform to spec. (Hardware is in better shape. Users rarely have to worry about CPU design errors, voltage control problems, electrical noise, static electricity, failed gates, or connector intermittents, all of which were problems with early mainframes.)

    Computing has become, to some extent, a ritual-taboo culture. We have huge books of examples on how to do things. If you take API documentation and write code to exercise the API in ways not used in examples, it is likely that many of today's APIs will fail. As a result, asking someone how to do something is more likely to work than reading up on an interface and expecting it to work as documented.

    (Open source doesn't help. Ever try to get a bug fixed in open source code? I have bug reports with clear test cases that have been outstanding for over five years.)

    • Yep, that's my typical work day. If Google were a billable service, I'd be in debt for a thousand years. I have to be an expert on a hundred subjects every week thanks the both the complexity and the rate of change of modern IT.

      There are a very few open-source projects that are actually responsive to bug-fix and change requests. And not just open-source ones Commodore's Amiga team was pretty responsive as well. Most groups, as you have observed, will either ignore you or outright flame you.

  • eduction system? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @12:46AM (#46812635) Journal
    Apparently there aren't enough welders in America []. Not everyone needs to be in IT, or graduate from college.
    • Sadly, when I studied welding it was taught by a short-timer. And while I can [MIG] weld OK in normal conditions, when I'm in a tiny little space with fifteen other guys trying to learn to weld, I just sweat out. It's probably horribly hazardous to health just breathing all that shit. Not even fume hoods, just one of those big vac hoses over each station that catches about a quarter of what comes off of the work.

      Nothing is more frustrating than already being frustrated and having the "instructor" "teaching"

  • Are the business leaders and their "collusion" with the vendors. It's all too easy to require new IT talent to be "Cisco-certified" or Java-certified or this-or-that certified. Think about it. Cisco wants their certified engineers to be "recipe-followers". If they run into a brick wall, they're supposed to run home to mama so the business can buy Cisco support time and contracts. Likewise, the business doesn't want to risk it with someone who isn't Cisco-certified because that gives Cisco an out in case thi

  • by CmdrEdem ( 2229572 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @01:15AM (#46812759) Homepage

    IMHO education does not teach how to explore new possibilities. It teaches rules and discipline. Some times, if you are lucky, you find someone that can jump start your brain to think critically and try to find new answers to old questions, that people already answered for you. That is the beginning of the process to find new questions and the respective answers.

    In Computer Science the education issue is specially bad because we are taught how to think like the machine. How to constraint our thoughts to fit that little box that is good with math and nothing else. And then teach the machine how to do that. Ow... the irony.

  • by DMJC ( 682799 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @01:22AM (#46812779)
    As someone who works in ICT as a network administrator it's quite simple. Stop hiring Windows only "IT professionals". I was hired by my employer because I had Cisco studies under my belt (CCNA courses not exams) as well as a broad base in Linux/Unix/Macintosh as well as Windows. I am working in an environment that is 99% Microsoft, but I slip in the odd Linux machine where it helps me work better. Too many people are locked into the mindset of click click, and Microsoft does nothing to make people look into deeper causes of problems. It's shit like rebooting for driver installs, software updates, small patches etc. That is killing the knowledge of IT workers. The Unix mentality is: oh you broke an application, guess you'd better go fix it, because a reboot sure isn't going to. Whereas on Windows, there's a 50/50 chance that what killed your app is crappy memory management on the OS, or a bad configuration. Far too many people graduate with degrees then just happily cruise into their $40-50k/year jobs. Then when they get called upon to do real IT engineering/sysadmin work, they stick their hands up, because they think that troubleshooting some idiot's exchange issue is the same as reinstalling a proper Cisco or Juniper router/switch. Hell I had a level 2 tech the other day, complaining that it was "so hard" to boot a router into rom-mon mode, and upload a PRE-MADE! config file for $400/hr and that he'd have to document it, because it's so hard. What the hell? that stuff is second nature to anyone who's done entry level Cisco, a course that gets taught at High Schools here! The lack fo basic commandline skills is sickening. The amount of money being wasted on over-priced software is sickening. Because noone is spending the time to learn alternatives to the junk they're using now.
    • by ledow ( 319597 )

      I'd extend your argument further than that.

      Stop supporting single-vendor qualifications. And especially those qualifications RUN BY those vendors. I don't really know of another industry where the qualifications are run by a particular vendor and nobody else.

      But, above and beyond that, I'm employed generally because I can learn anything quickly. Throw me in front of Linux, or Mac, or old Windows, or weird Windows configurations, or tell me you want the cutting-edge stuff just out of MS, and I'll get it d

    • I know this is Slashdot and I'll probably get modded down for this, but I'll say it anyway. Your impression of Microsoft products being a "click, click mindset" simply shows that you do not understand the more sophisticated and efficient ways of using their products. Powershell is an extremely capable scripting language, in fact the GUI for Windows Server is now optional. Being a competent IT professional is about recognizing the right tool for the job, not blindly preferring one technology over an
  • by Casandro ( 751346 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @01:32AM (#46812801)

    When people believed you could use a computer without being able to program. That's how mandatory programming courses got shut down and the incompetence "trickled down".

  • If IT workers knew how to think critically, they would go into programming, instead.

    *cough* OK, that was mean. The thing is, critical thinking skills are notoriously difficult to teach effectively []. Maybe we should put more effort into hiring IT workers who can solve problems, instead of looking for people with the right combination of resume bullet-points. If we created greater demand for critical thinkers, instead of creating demand for certifications, perhaps we would see more effort put into learning

  • by l0ungeb0y ( 442022 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @02:10AM (#46812907) Homepage Journal

    Over my course of 13 years in IT Consulting, one of the most often repeated compliments is that I am a "genius" for being able to get up to speed on business requirements and advance a narrow feature set that was more value-added to their user base all over a single conversation.

    While I've always seen my ability to understand "C-Level Speak", "Marketing Logic" and business principals as tangible assets that should define the software, I never thought I was anything but slightly more adept than other developers, since it was to me at least a given that all developers account for the business principals we are developing against -- I see now that perhaps I am a rarified quantity.

    However, this has prevented me from using services such as O-Desk which focus on having customers spy on screen shots and key strokes of your "clocked in time", as I am all too aware that my most meaningful work is done while having a beer or 3 while I chill-intensify while mulling over the business aspects gleaned during that conversation and deriving user-flows and architectural concepts, which are then presented for approval and adoption. No keystrokes can be logged during that interval, which is really the most value-added and happens throughout the dev cycle as features are added and I work with the stake holders to really hone in on a core feature-set, since the reqs at that stage will change as they work to attract more stake holders. Instead, ODesk and their ilk think I am merely a shit shoveler who's time is merely spent writing code, good or bad.

  • The issue is that so many of the students are so far behind that you can't bother with critical thinking if you want to prepare them for college.

    Which means the only way to give them a proper education is to accept that some kids are not college material.

    Do that and the whole system falls into order.

    Stop trying to turn kids that have a hard time reading at age 15 into astrophysicists, lawyers, and surgeons. Its a wasted effort.

    Rather, get those kids something that will actually be useful in their life. Some

  • HR often focuses on the technology first, not the organization's industry. If they value company knowledge they'd pay more to keep existing staff. But, they instead often want to dump the older people for those allegedly knowledgeable in the shiny new thing of the month.

  • Who is "this guy" and why should we give a shit about his opinion?
  • It starts at university, where students learn for exams and not to understand the matter. They are often unable to think at all. If they have a problem, they would not even try to define it and, at least, then google it. They do not read manuals. Faced with a more complex problem, e.g., in a practical course, most of them fail. As, I assume that they are not stupid are general mentally unable to think, it must be laziness. This laziness is a trained behavior learned in school. In school you also have only t

  • It's a very long story, but I basically worked as a fixer for an HPC company on contract for a few years. I'd log in remotely or (occasionally) fly out and fix messes made by people who didn't know how to solve problems with Linux servers using critical thinking. I'd watch them sometimes and they'd try the only thing they knew how to do, over and over again, without realizing that it wasn't fixing the problem. Instead of narrowing down what could be causing the issue and then doing some research/googling/RTFM and bothering to understand the issue, they'd just reboot the machine over and over, progressively screw up config files worse and worse, and then eventually I'd get called in to fix it. I don't know if it's possible to teach critical thinking skills, or if they're just developed over a lot of self-directed experiments, or if it's an issue of intelligence, but it's got to be costing companies untold millions of dollars every year in the US alone.

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"