[xquery-talk] Learning this stuff (Re: Izzit Bcos I is functional?)

G. Ken Holman gkholman at CraneSoftwrights.com
Fri Jun 19 05:07:50 PDT 2015

I'm not a university lecture, but I do (did) teach hands-on XSLT and XQuery.

At 2015-06-19 06:59 -0400, Ihe Onwuka wrote:
>Every year it's the same - no more than a third of them are showing 
>the sort of ability I would want in anyone doing a coding job.

I can testify to that in the students who showed up at my classes.

>But another issue is lack of student discipline.
>Too many of them just don't realise how to learn this stuff 
>properly, you have to practice, practice, practice.

What I learned at the University of Waterloo was how to learn, not 
what to learn.  For example, every week in the programming languages 
class the assignment due was in a different programming 
language.  The point wasn't learning the programming language, but to 
learn how to learn a new programming language.  As Ihe says, that 
takes a lot of practice, and learning a new programming language 
every week provided exactly that:  practice in learning. And  I'm 
pleased (relieved) to say I've never had to use SNOBOL in the real world.

>Too many of them are stuck in the mentality that to do well all that 
>is needed is to "revise" in the week before the exam.

I graduated in 1981, SGML was finalized in 1983 and I didn't start 
working with it until 1989.  So there was no opportunity to learn 
markup when I was in university (though perhaps I should have paid a 
bit more attention in the computer grammar class). Whatever students 
cram in for the exam is likely not going to be useful years 
later.  But how they learned (by not cramming) will hold them in good 
stead regardless of the problems their employers are asking them to solve.

>If I had done that I wouldn't have my wife nagging me "It's 
>Christmas - why are you doing work?", and I wouldn't have my boss 
>nagging me "Why does your module have such a high failure rate?" and 
>I wouldn't have my student nagging me "Why are you so tough on us?".

I bet not so tough as an employer with a customer deadline!

I acknowledge this may be seen as veering off topic, but as I exit 
the scene I am not holding a lot of promise that these wonderful 
technologies are going to be wielded at all well in the foreseeable future.

In my (limited) perspective I fail to see what stepping back to 
accommodate JSON is bringing to the party.  I liked what I read 
earlier in this thread (or was it another?) that JSON is only 
ephemeral and XML can be persistent. Fine by me, then, if JSON is 
solving a different problem than what I've been solving.  But I feel 
it falls short in addressing the problems that XML addresses, so I 
worry when I read of people replacing XML with JSON for everything.

I think the industry needs to listen to people like Maurice and Ihe 
and focus not on changing the technologies that are there, but to 
focus on getting them better applied as they are.  That is where I 
think energy needs to be spent.

. . . . . . . . . Ken

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