Saturday, November 06, 2010

Why Would We Expect Teaching to be Any Different?

Steve McConnell in Making Software:

This degree of variation (in productivity and quality) isn't unique to software. A study by norm Augustine found that in a variety of professions -- writing, football, invention, police work, and other occupations -- the top 20% of the people produced about 50% of the output, whether the output is touchdowns, patents, solved cases or software [Augustine 1979]. When you think about it, this just makes sense. We've all known people who are exceptional students, exceptional athletes, exceptional artists, exceptional parents. These differences are just part of the human experience, and why would we expect software development to be any different?

How many millions of dollars has the Gates Foundation spent in an effort to get everyone to mis-interpret this phenomenon in respect to teaching?

1 comment:

abellia said...

Still, we can help people do THEIR best. People can improve through practice, training and conscious effort. This is true in every profession and is often ignored by managers, who sometimes see their job as harassing or goading those that work for them, instead of trying to help them to improve.

There simply aren't enough super-teachers out there to meet the need, so we must do our best to help every individual teacher improve. But we also can't have unreasonable expectations for outcome. No amount of training or practice is going to make me into Michael Jordan on the basketball court.