Posts Tagged ‘pair programming’

Shouldn’t you know a bit before teaching it?

Friday, March 21, 2008

I’m once again back on hiring, aggressively I shall say.
It occurred that I’ve got some resumes from guys graduating soon at UofT in Computer Science. I’ve found good preparation and generally a high level, even though it seems to me that quality of graduates from Waterloo is generally higher. But that’s not the point.

The point is that at a certain point I was making questions about candidates’ knowledge of agile themes, starting from TDD and rapidly moving towards pair programming. One candidate stroke me in particular because he clearly seemed reluctant to admit that he had problems with pair programming. I started digging and it soon turned out that he was afraid of working the way he was taught at some course while at UofT: an assistant explained to those poor students that in order to practice pair programming they had to work in pairs, where one person sits at the keyboard and the other one looks for syntax errors over her shoulder… for one hour and a half! And then switch, another 1.5 h of clear separation of roles, one works, the other watches.

I was livid. I reacted pretty badly. I explained to him immediately that that assistant didn’t have any idea about what he was talking about (plus some other words that can’t be repeated here). My candidate seemed dubious. It took me a while to convince him and I’m not sure I’ve succeeded.

Now the question is: how can this possibly be? How is it possible that an “assistant” with no experience about something actually pretends he can teach it? How?

I thought that those things happen only in Italy…


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