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