Image via Wikipedia
The whole thing was a complete brainfuck, most of the time I was left with eyes glazed over staring at the projection and feeling a little bit butt raped. And yet, I still feel like I've learned a lot and the whole thing was a very worthwhile way of spending time. This is very often the case with outside university lectures, brainfuck to the extreme, yet useful.
On the other hand we have university lectures. They are only very rarely a complete brainfuck and when they are a brain fucking machine, they're so high in the stratosphere you can't even begin to hope to start comprehending what the fuck is going on. These are also the kind of lectures you'd be hard pressed to listen to for more than 45 minutes at a time and are all together almost quite useless.
So what's the difference?
Well university lectures usually have a lot to say and even more time to say it in. They can go at a painfully slow pace, or the lecturer can decide to cram so much stuff in that it would really take almost a lifetime to understand all of it. But this isn't the primary problem.
What I think really sucks with university lectures is that there is no Q&A time at the end. Sure professors usually encourage us to ask questions, sometimes they even go so far as to finish with "So are there any questions?" But they do this all wrong. Most of the time they are verbally asking for questions, but not really behaving like they are prepared to answer questions.
In a university lecture hall the professor might finish by asking for questions. But they do this a minute before the end, often even after the end when everyone's in a rush to get to the next thing on their schedule. This isn't really a constructive way to conduct a Q&A since people take some time to process what's been said and muster a question; there's also the small case of anxiety about asking something in front of 200 relative strangers. Asking for questions during the lecture also isn't a very good option since people will likely be unwilling to interrupt your reasoning and/or might be afraid you'll answer in the rest of the lecture.
I must admit I don't really know the answer to this problem, usually outside university lectures are on a loose schedule and there's easily enough time to ask questions. Yesterday I think we spent a good 20 minutes of the two hours just for Q&A. At uni most lectures have to be put within an hour and the perfectly available 15 minutes are spent on what we call academic fifteen .... perhaps that should be replace by something more useful, I don't know.
What do you guys think? Am I completely off my rocker here or could we somehow improve the quality of our classes without delving too much into changing the curriculum?
I write articles with real insight into the career and skills of a modern software engineer. "Raw and honest from the heart!" as one reader described them. Fueled by lessons learned over 20 years of building production code for side-projects, small businesses, and hyper growth startups. Both successful and not.
Subscribe below 👇
Join Swizec's Newsletter and get insightful emails 💌 on mindsets, tactics, and technical skills for your career. Real lessons from building production software. No bullshit.
"Man, love your simple writing! Yours is the only newsletter I open and only blog that I give a fuck to read & scroll till the end. And wow always take away lessons with me. Inspiring! And very relatable. 👌"
Senior Mindset Book
Get promoted, earn a bigger salary, work for top companiesLearn more
20% off this week
Have a burning question that you think I can answer? Hit me up on twitter and I'll do my best.
Who am I and who do I help? I'm Swizec Teller and I turn coders into engineers with "Raw and honest from the heart!" writing. No bullshit. Real insights into the career and skills of a modern software engineer.
Want to become a true senior engineer? Take ownership, have autonomy, and be a force multiplier on your team. The Senior Engineer Mindset ebook can help 👉 swizec.com/senior-mindset. These are the shifts in mindset that unlocked my career.
Curious about Serverless and the modern backend? Check out Serverless Handbook, for frontend engineers 👉 ServerlessHandbook.dev
Want to Stop copy pasting D3 examples and create data visualizations of your own? Learn how to build scalable dataviz React components your whole team can understand with React for Data Visualization
Did someone amazing share this letter with you? Wonderful! You can sign up for my weekly letters for software engineers on their path to greatness, here: swizec.com/blog
By the way, just in case no one has told you it yet today: I love and appreciate you for who you are ❤️