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comment by lil
lil  ·  18 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Why I think the tech interview process is broken – Medium

    I have a feeling that this is going to be one of those posts of mine that will ruffle some feathers.
Not at all. Thank you for writing. In fact, your letter made me immediately realize how I appear to some people.

    He came into the program as a multi-dimensional, highly skilled and multi-talented human being. I can't take any credit. and this thing from IRC on the 20th November 2016:

    22:32 < lilski> I said earlier that I teach computer science students - but I basically teach them how to be human beings

First of all, what does it mean to be a human being, let alone teach someone to be one? I will make more of an effort to describe what I do because my flippant shorthand sounds stupid and arrogant.

When the usual response from people is a sad nod, and "Good idea," I am only reinforcing negative stereotypes -- and like all stereotypes, they can potentially lead to prejudice.

    Sorry for being peevish about it, but as someone who is focused on hard sciences and getting patronising treatment from most humanities-oriented people around me ever since I can remember, I can't help but resent some of this attitude (don't blame me, blame multiple people who told me verbatim that I must lack a soul to not appreciate some poem or picture :/).
and not appreciating some arty thing doesn't make you any less human.

    but I'm at loss about what you actually do in class.
I focus on interpersonal communication skills, particularly listening to others; listening to what they say and don't say; examining our own reactions to stress, conflict, and confusion; understanding that what we see and perceive and interpret might be different from others who are with us; examining how, like it or not, our emotions are the engines of our lives and often objectivity is subjective. In addition, public speaking classes are all about connecting with others not talking at them.

    What is the thing that your students lack
My current students don't particularly lack anything more than any other group. We all struggle with communication and connection.

    and how does acquiring it make them into 'human beings'?
I regret ever using that phrase, but I will say this: the students often tell me that the class asked them to engage in new thoughtful self-reflection, that they have changed the way they relate to others, and that they feel more in control of their lives. That's not being a human being, but it's something.

    What's about your students that your aim is to make them into those 'multidimensional human beings'?
I want them to be happier and more effective. I want their teamwork to be more successful. I want them to understand their unintended contribution to their own problems. I'm grateful to have a chance to work in an area that seems meaningful to me and seems helpful. I hate coming across as arrogant. I imagine I will share this thread with my students. That will be an interesting conversation.

    Sorry, but I simply loathe when in my own life the, supposedly, attuned to humanity people just throw me into some easy 'cog-head' category and go forth with their pre-existing assumption.
Have you challenged their preconceived notions? What did they say? What evidence did they have?

    I'm not angry or resentful specifically toward you, lil, but I'm asking because so far you have proven that you will not just dismiss my questions outright with something along the lines of "you will not understand, untermensh".
I hope I have responded non-dismissively.



Devac  ·  17 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Thank you. It was indeed what I was looking for as far as explanation gets. Sorry for my post being somewhat rude and projective, but I hope that you can understand where it was coming from. There's a Polish word that I can't really translate literally, Pięknoduch, a portmanteau of "Piękno" meaning beauty and "Duch" meaning spirit or soul (and also ghost… talk about efficient language :D) that's actually a derogatory term that would roughly mean "pretentious artsy-fartsy oversensitive ninnies" that almost too perfectly describes most people with whom I had displeasure to interact as far as the topic of discussion is concerned. It unfortunately also includes most of my language teachers until I got to uni. One was actually using very similar phrases to the ones that I originally quoted without ever feeling like she should explain wtf she even means. Perhaps if I had a teacher more like you I would never develop my "oh, fuck. why does it have to be poetry" knee-jerk as well?

To get back to your questions.

    Have you challenged their preconceived notions? What did they say?

Hardly. When you want to see something in others, it will be there. If I showed that I know 'their lingo' I was deemed a poser. If I talked in a formal manner with proper meaning behind logical ordering, I was machine-like. If I tried to engage, I was 'trying too hard'. As a great AI once said, "the only winning move is not to play".

    What evidence did they have?

Well, I am not the most expressive person. I struggle with words even in my native language and unfortunately, it fits the stereotype. I had people going along that impression. Why not fight it? See above.

Either way, I'm sorry about this whole exchange.

lil  ·  17 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    Either way, I'm sorry about this whole exchange.
Don't be. I appreciate the exchange and very glad you brought up the points you did. If my unnecessary thoughtless generalizations cause harm, they must be questioned.

The author of the Medium post above had some serious questions for me as well. He cared enough about his education to take the time to write me a long email full of challenges. He said he had done that for his teachers in the past and never got a satisfactory response. Like yours, his challenges were thoughtful. For example, he thought the material in my course book were opinions because, while I have a bibliography in the back, I don't provide detailed evidence of the research and sources. I want to focus on activities in the class. I rewrite my course every year and will definitely put in sources throughout the book. Great idea.

I long for students who care enough to challenge me and it takes confidence, courage, and commitment to do that.

kantos  ·  17 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    Either way, I'm sorry about this whole exchange.

    Don't be. I appreciate the exchange and very glad you brought up the points you did. If my unnecessary thoughtless generalizations cause harm, they must be questioned

If I could badge a thread of comments as one, then I would, Devac (potential feature???). Going to throw an appreciation at both of you for being so open and respective, in kind. Thank you.

rjw  ·  17 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Agreed. A good interaction can be much more valuable than a single expertly-delivered take. Thank you both.

lil  ·  17 days ago  ·  link  ·  

awww, let's throw out some badges anyway!