Tugger the SLUGger!SLUG Mailing List Archives

Re: [SLUG] Re: Still is??: Re: linux jobs ##

At 02:31 PM 9/09/00 +1100, Angus Lees wrote:
On Sat, Sep 09, 2000 at 11:40:14AM +1100, Matt Allen wrote:
> On the programming side of things, This is what *i* mostly do and
> all I think uni would have done for me is put me back 3-4 years.
> The question I ask is "Could uni have taught me how to write PHP and
> HTML".  I guess sort of, maybe in the basics but it still would have
> taken 3-4 years :)


As someone completing their final semester of a BSc Comp. Sci. I have to agree with Angus. Uni aims to teach you general techniques and concepts as opposed to specific languages. From my experience, Macquarie Uni doesn't have the "packer" problem. Over the years (and I've been there for a fair few now) I have seen the tools change, but the ideas stay the same.

From my first year programming experience of Pascal & mSQL when I was still aiming for a degree in Chemistry to when I decided to pursue a Comp Sci Degree and found the later part of the 1st year component changed from Pascal to Eiffel in an attempt to introduce OO from early on. They were still teaching you the general concepts, ADT's, recursion etc etc (you all know the stuff so I won't rattle it all off). During my time working my way towards a degree we used languages such as the ones mentioned above, as well as moving to a unix environment from 2nd year onwards with languages such as C++, Oracle, DLX (to learn assembly), Prolog & Java.

But they were just that.. tools. The concepts I've learnt turn learning a new language into a simple case of flicking through the appropriate O'reily's to learn the syntax and within a few days you are writing code fairly proficiently (ie without having to constantly refer to the book) for which ever language you need. I've done that now with perl, PHP and VBscript (for ASP's)(yes I know, blurgh yukky MS code but it got me web dev exp.) for my job working for the uni.

I'm not saying university is the only way to "get it" but it certainly provides a structured way of learning how to "get it" and it has worked for me. Others prefer different approaches to learning the same things I'm sure. I certainly believe that if the person has the potential to "get it" they just have to find the right method for them. The added bonus of a Uni is that often they have job vacancies on campus that help you gain job related experience (mainly in IT though) to get the groundwork that Gus was talking about.

I'll leave out the blatant "I'll be graduating and finishing my current job in Feb and will have 1yrs exp under my belt if anyone needs a worker" spiel out for now :)


we all know that there are those who "get it", and those that
don't. if someone "gets it" they don't learn *a* language, they learn
the general techniques (/idioms) and concepts appropriate to a
particular style of language. learning a new language then becomes
flicking to the appendix on syntax at the back of the relevant

of course a uni course wouldn't (or shouldn't) teach you "how to write
PHP and HTML". thats not what uni is for.

unfortunately uni's are now filled with packers, since they are by far
the majority. the curricula and funding are controlled by packers who
want to "see results" and don't understand that someone who comes out
of a uni course *shouldn't* know how to do anything specific.

if you still want a "classical" education, you have to go to a uni and
look for it. they are still there if you find the right group of
people, the right subjects and keep yourself suitably distanced from
the actual details of the material being presented. regular
conversations with groups of like-minded people, prompted by the
opinion and explanation of an "expert", is by far the fastest way to
truly learn.

i've worked with a few, and its a very sad thing to meet someone who
"gets it", but hasn't been given the groundwork they need meet their

don't go to uni to prepare for a job. if that is your expectation, a
short course at TAFE will save you money, time and frustration.

and hire someone who "gets it" over someone who doesn't every single
time. regardless of paper qualifications.


 - Gus

   ("Free software meets Buddhist enlightenment" religion anyone?)

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Paul Robinson
Web Developer / Programmer
Centre for Flexible Learning
Macquarie University
NSW 2109, Australia
Voice: +61 2 9850 8424
Email: Paul.Robinson@xxxxxxxxx