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Deep Thoughts After a Bad Day

Why is school so messed up?

I may very well have to re-take Assembly A. Not because I didn't understand it, because I do, quite well. After hearing the horror stories for years, I'm surprised at how easy it really is.

No, if I have to take that class again, it'll either be because a) I didn't do quite enough homework to get a C, b) The teacher is a fuckup and lost my work and is too stuck up to admit it, or c) a combination of the two. And I will have to re-take the class, because it's a prerequisite to transfer into UC.

I also have to re-take Calculus A at seven-fifty every other morning. I've now been through Calc A once, and although I didn't do well, I also saw enough to know that I don't need to do well in it. Apart from a couple interesting insights into the nature of velocity and acceleration, there were no useful applications of it. None. Not a single one.

And who knows what bullshit classes I'll have to take next year as part of general ed?

I've known since...as long as I remember that I wanted to be a programmer. That's at least half of my life. And, hubris aside, I'm pretty good at it. I'm sure as hell not the best, but I think I'm better than average. I think that I know or can teach myself most of what schools can teach me about programming.

The one thing I haven't learned yet that they can teach is the meta-skill--the ability to learn any language from its manual, any protocol from its specification. My father learned that at UCI, and it's a skill that serves him to this day.

What I'm doing is not learning, at least not in any useful sense. It's getting a piece of paper that says I know. That's a very different thing, and a much stupider one. It should not take a four-year saga of work and teachers to prove you know.

But the alternative--proving by doing--is much harder. It involves working for several years from very low jobs to what I really want to do. Basically, I can take four years of this at college, or maybe eight years of something slightly better at work.

It's interesting...I've come back to my old view about school, the one from ninth and tenth grade, before I started doing independent study. Except that then I felt I didn't have the skills I needed (not to mention the age). Now...

Maybe I'm just being stupid. Maybe I'm just grumpy from a long, shitty day. I dunno.

Data Structures class tomorrow night, 5-7 or somesuch. Have to look it up. I think I know data structures--arrays are best for linear work, linked lists are best for linear work with lots of insertions, hashes are usually best for exact lookups with few insertions, btrees are best for inexact lookups or lookups with insertions. O(1), O(n), O(1) on a good day, O(log n). Not hard stuff. We'll see if they have anything useful to teach, I suppose.

Any thoughts, minna?

Comments

( Read 3 comments — Leave a comment )
nathanbp
Jan. 13th, 2004 03:35 am (UTC)
Besides "the US education system sucks"? No, not really.
sangochan
Jan. 13th, 2004 05:56 am (UTC)
The only thought I have is: you're right. You're basically in school for no real reason except to get a piece of paper.

I spent the first two years I was in college learning absolutely nothing. I was just trying for that piece of paper that said I knew something. Took a semester off. Going back this semester to get absolutely nothing accomplished except a piece of paper that says I managed to stay mostly awake through 12 hours of class. (Yay, I'm only taking 12 hours this semester... ^_^; much, much better than 18...)

At the end of this semester, I should have this piece of paper (my Associates in Applied Science) that means my part-time job can be a assistant manager position at EB or Gamestop or some job I won't be threatening to kill myself or others over. I just have to wait until June to get it... -_-

At times I thought that piece of paper was completely useless, but all it took was working at my job 5 months to know that it wasn't... all the assholes who were making my life miserable there, who were my supervisors and my bosses, they were not smarter than me. Nor were they better with people. I had them beat on both fronts, and that SCARES ME.

THe only difference between us was they had a piece of paper I didn't. That piece of paper certainly didn't give them any more knowledge than me.

I wish you could just CLEP college completely... -_- but unfortunately, half the schools don't even accept CLEP in the first place, if they did, I'd already be halfway to my bachelor's, instead of starting from scratch this semester.

Most intelligent people don't learn much from college, Brent. I take a look at the friends I have here, and all of them are in pointless classes they need just to get a degree so they can prove they have the knowledge that they already have to do a job after they get out of school.

But hun, you'll make it. You'll want to pull your hair out, curse, piss and moan, and bitch a lot, but I have confidence in you. Ganbatte, ne? ^_^ I know how you feel about boring classs you learn nothing in better than anyone else here, I think, since we have the same problem with those... >_> but if I have to buckle down and get straight A's this semester in the pain in arse classes I'm taking (message me for a list, so we can commiserate... x_x), I'm sure you can do okay in yours... yours at least sound somewhat interesting (except calc). ^_^

And I'm here for you to bitch at whenever you need. *hugs* Ja ne, Brent-kun.
chiave_trust
Jan. 13th, 2004 09:46 am (UTC)
And after that...

*shrugs* I'm in school for East Asian Studies. Which basically means I get that piece of paper that says that I stayed awake through the language classes I'd be taking. Also, my two minors are in Japanese and Philosophy - in practical terms, quite useless.

And like you, Brent, in some of these classes I already know the material.

...yeah..... comments from a sick woman. Will talk to you later or something.
( Read 3 comments — Leave a comment )