[Israel.pm] Is University Really Necessary?

ik idokan at gmail.com
Fri Mar 23 12:48:09 PDT 2007


Well, I'm one of the people that never had any collage/university degree.
Just to let you understand, I tried to learn at the open university
(here in Israel), but my while my work didn't went bellow 90, my exams
didn't raised above 30 ...

However, in my current work place (as one example), I was able in my
first month to create a program for a customer in a subject I had no
past knowledge or experience prior to that month.
After the first month (although I still keep on learning the subject),
I was able to start and explaining things to others at my work place,
and understood better what they are talking about.

I try to place my programs (that I do on my "free" time) on the
Internet as open source projects, so many people can see what I can
do, so you can see what I'm capable of doing without any proper
education.

But the problem is that most places are narrow minded, and can't see
anything, nor decide without a "proper" degree on your hands. I wish
to remind you that such a degree cost a lot of money, but does not
give you any real knowledge (yes, it is like anything else, arguable
:))

Few years ago, I made an experiment that it's result where very scary
on my hands:
I gave the same amount of people without any university degree and
people with a university degree to do the same "task" for a real life
problem I had, when I wrote a program (using Perl). The result as I
said where really scary:

The people without any degree had various  solutions for the problem,
when all of them where written in a very simple way, and wrote
maintainable code.

All the people with a computer degree solved the problem in the same
way ! where some of them even asked for directions such as "what am I
allowed to do, and what am I not allowed to do ?" and few other such
questions. Where the result ended up as unmaintainable code, that did
the job, but was inefficient code if I compare it to real life product
that needs to be maintainable by more then one developer.

In my opinion the way schools and universities teaches us, is the way
of "mass production", where you must remember things rather then
knowing them. For example babies learn how to walk by falling all the
time, until they learn how to place balance to their feet, but for
that they need their feet to get longer.
The same is for eyes. The light arrives to our eyes come upside down,
that is what existed up, is appearing down, and what is down appears
above. It's our brain that rotate the image to be straight forward,
but it does it from trial and error when we are babies.
And I can continue to give examples for trial and errors such
learning, but our society is using the "Prussian education system",
where you must be a robot and remember things, rather then knowing
them. The education system made the error as something bad, that
claims that  people that does not understand or remember and make
mistakes as "stupid" people, that at the end does not deserve to be
part of the successful society.

Well I'm one of these people that the education system thinks that
they can't read or write (not to talk about the fact that I know 4
human languages that most of them I learned on my own).

So how employers can know if someone is good for work for them ? If
you ask this question, then you don't believe in the power of open
source.
People that work on their own time in the subject that they suppose to
work at, are much better candidate then the one's that only expect
that a diploma/degree will open them a door.
If you will look at people that do wish to learn and expand their
minds into additional knowledge as better candidates as people that
are close minded. So please update the way you look at things, and you
will find a new world.

Ido

On 3/23/07, Elizabeth Sterling <elizabeth at sparkthing.com> wrote:
> Clearly, I didn't go to the Technion, so I can't comment on that
> particular university, but I do have a lot to say about higher
> education in general.
>
> First, let me say that I think that the whole "We won't hire you
> without a degree" thing is utter bunk. I've gotten jobs many times
> simply because I have a degree, and the employers haven't even
> bothered to notice that none of my degrees are in CS or EE or in
> anything even remotely related. I'm always amused by people's reaction
> when they find out I went to UC Berkeley. It's often along the lines
> of "They made BSD there!" as if that matters to a student in the
> Social Sciences.
>
> There is no question in my mind that it is entirely possible to be an
> excellent engineer without a University education. I am a strong
> believer in autodidacticism and there are some awesome hackers in the
> international community who have learned everything they know about
> computers without the structure of a university. My business partner
> is an amazing individual, and he's always surprising me with his depth
> of knowledge and engineering skill, but he's "only" got a high school
> education.
>
> Mind you, I'm also a proponent of radical unschooling for kids, and my
> eldest son (who happens to be at university right now) was unschooled
> for 5 years. I think that he learned far more by building his own
> linux distro, making independent movies, publishing comic books,
> working at the Seattle Aquarium, and playing with role playing games
> than he ever would have learned by wasting his time in a classroom
> through high school. (Apparently, his university agrees... they
> actively recruit homeschooled and unschooled students like my son.)
>
> So, if the university isn't *necessary*, why go? Well, it's not
> necessary, but it can be quite good. University is not the only place
> where you can stretch your mind and learn new things, but it is one
> option. Options are good, and there's no reason to throw the baby out
> with the bath water. The structure of classes can help you to move
> through material at a steady pace without distraction, and the support
> of the teaching staff, tutors and fellow students can help get you
> through the more difficult points in your learning.
>
> There is also the fact that employers like to see a degree. Let's come
> back to that for a second. Why do employers like to see that degree?
> Honestly? It's because they need something external that they can use
> to narrow down the field of potential employees. It's a lazy and
> inefficient strategy, but it's the done thing, and so they keep doing
> it. Then, of course, they complain about the quality of the people
> they actually interview. It's insane. But, when you buy into the
> system, you get what the system spits out at you. That's life. (On the
> other hand, if you chose not to buy into the system, there's always
> the uphill battle against the people who can't see outside of their
> little boxes. That's also life.)
>
> As for the question of whether you should go to university right out
> of high school, I give a resounding NO (in the vast majority of
> cases). As always, I leave the door open to those rare exceptions,
> because we humans are such a varied lot and there's always someone for
> whom going to university right out of high school really is the
> perfect thing. Usually, however, I think that the time out of school
> allows for a certain level of maturity, development, and recovery from
> the burnout of the school system and these things all go together to
> improve the actual results of the university education when it's
> finally received.
>
> - Elizabeth Sterling
>
> --
> "In fact, one of the saddest but most common conditions in elementary
> school computer labs ..., is the children are being trained to use
> Word, Excel and PowerPoint. I consider that criminal, because children
> should be making things, communicating, exploring, sharing, not
> running office automation tools."   -- Nicholas Negroponte
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