December 10, 2003

Bulk view

Somewhat depressed

I've looked at a number of the shell scripting submissions for CS161. I feel a bit depressed because of the fact that so many people were unable to complete it on their own...

Why do we teach these things, anyway? I know I've found shell scripting to be incredibly useful. I like being able to write little programs to make my life easier. Last night, I wrote a shell script that automatically created HTML files for the applets I needed to check. Companies spend around PHP 10k per person to train employees in shell scripting. Shell scripting is one of the best reasons to use Linux - the ability to combine tools in ways the original authors might not have thought about.

More than that, I want other students to be prepared to learn whatever they need - not give up right away when they get stuck. I want them to be able to struggle with the documentation and triumph, proud that whatever they learned, they learned on their own. I don't want them to always have to rely on someone else. I want them to face their Linux or UNIX systems with confidence.

How easy it would be to just teach to the interested few. How comforting it would be to simply address those who are diligent, those who do the work, those who realize that homework is a perfect opportunity to determine how much one knows and find out what one needs help with. But I have to learn how to reach the other students...

All I am is a resource. I can guide their progress, answer their questions, give them hints, nudge them in the right direction - but I cannot force them to learn. I will carefully structure exercises so that they can discover what they need to learn.

How have I failed as a teacher? How can I improve? How much more can I give? How better can I address people's needs? Am I doing something worthwhile?

I must continue working on this - for who else will?