Sunday, July 29, 2007

Rave: That's what I like in a student

As some of you may (hah! like anyone is reading this) know, I taught computer science for a long time, as a university tutor. I had a lot of terrible students; students that were rude, foulmouthed, whiny, even one that grabbed my ass. I had a student who complained when they scraped through an assignment to code a compression algorithm with a passing grade; never mind that their program made everything bigger. I had one student discuss her private life with me at length while we were walking past open office doors (and there was nothing she told me that I wanted or needed to know). I was heartbroken by students who were really good, but couldn't be bothered doing the work.

I'm not talking about those students today, though. There were quite a few students I loved, who made me laugh, and who kept my tutorials lively, but I don't want to talk about them either. Today I want to talk about the students I respected, in particular one group of young men I had in my classes in the last semester I taught. They were a group of engineering students, and while there were some slackers, a few of them were wonderful.

These guys were completing a requirement for their degree, and had no real interest in computing at all. In fact, in some cases, programming downright pissed them off. They had the heaviest workloads of any of my first year students, but they showed up to class, treated me with respect, and did the work. One time, when I caught one of them doing something he shouldn't be, I reamed him out for it and expected belligerence in return. Instead, he thanked me for drawing attention to his behaviour. When it came to the final assignment of the course, they were busier than anyone else taking the course, at least as far as their university work. Nonetheless, they worked right up to the last minute, and they did the work themselves, and none of them blew the assignment off.

continued in next post

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