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Impress Myself

People Feel Dumb: That’s why they don’t code.

I saw another article for an elementary school programming course, and I can’t believe how far off-base we have gotten. We don’t need more software developers but if you believe that notion, I don’t think more courses is the way to go. 

In fact, I think it’s pretty dumb to teach children programming. I’m sure there are a lot of concepts they could get, but it’s an opportunity cost. Our schools already suck in so many ways they can’t possibly need another distraction from basic education. 

In any case, the real problem is that people feel stupid.

I experience a clock-work like response every time I talk work with people.

"And what do you do?" Said Person A

"I’m a software engineer" Me

Blank stare…

"I make computer programs", Me

Person A, “Oh you must be smart”. 

It’s a sad response it implies I’m smart, but it also implies they think they’re not (not always obviously.).  This unravels a huge ball of implications, people think software development is only for geniuses, it’s super hard, it’s unlearnable, but the one I’m interested in is that people don’t think they are smart enough to learn it. 

What? Huh? Why?

That is completely wrong. 

I doubt that I am much smarter than the average person. If I can learn this stuff anyone can. Let me be super clear, there is nothing special about me or most other software developers, we just decided to show up and go for it.

This entire post is in entirely anecdotal and based on my own experience, but we seem to have generations of people that believe they just aren’t good enough to do “smart people” things. 

That’s the problem!

To solve our problems with highly skilled workers, we need to figure out how to build confidence in our children. How do we make them believe they are smart and can take on difficult and/or “smart people” jobs/problems/roles. And how do we make them interested in doing these things? 

This is the great American Challenge.

Focusing on software training programs is short sighted. We won’t have a shortage of software developers forever, in the future it will be a different kind of shortage. Who knows maybe we will need more rocket scientists or electrical engineers or medical researchers. We shouldn’t solve the STEM problem we should solve our problems with confidence and ambition, we should make everyone feel capable.