Shouldn’t you know a bit before teaching it?

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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2 Responses to “Shouldn’t you know a bit before teaching it?”

  1. Babele Dunint Says:

    so, we (italians) are not alone… 🙂 you should have seen Casini (an italian politician) trying to explain Carlo Rubbia (italian physicist, Nobel Prize) how a nuclear appliance works. It was amusing, search on YouTube for “casini spiega rubbia centrali nucleari”… 🙂

    Soon the Angel of Death will come and get us, and we will ask him if he cares for a beer…

  2. xpmatteo Says:

    Take it easy man. Misconceptions about XP are all around. This morning a recent graduate of the Milano Politechnic told me he took a Software Engineering course, that was “mainly about UML and XP”, taught by an Italian professor well-known for having written a polemizing paper against XP (you know who I mean). Just a few questions and it was clear that he was taught about *what* Agile methods aim to (i.e., respond to change) but no idea about *how* to do that; he couldn’t say what refactoring or TDD are.

    I had another candidate claiming, with a broad smile, that he was doing XP in his last job, because there was no documentation and no design. It was fun to see him realize he had no idea what XP is. :o)

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