Saturday, November 02, 2013

Natural Born Programmers

A post Natural Born Programmers caught my eye the other day. An exerpt is below, but I recommend everyone go read the whole post. The idea of the natural born programmer really is a tremendously damaging and dangerous idea we need to fight against.
The idea of hereditary legislators is as inconsistent as that of hereditary judges, or hereditary juries; and as absurd as an hereditary mathematician, or an hereditary wise man; and as ridiculous as an hereditary poet laureate. 
Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man
There is nothing quite so destructive as the myth of the natural born programmer, the assumption that some magic genetic variation lets you write the most elegant web shops in lisp. In Is Math a Gift? , Dweck researches how this assumption undermines learning:
We had found in our past research that viewing intellectual ability as a gift led students to question that ability and lose motivation when they encountered setbacks. In contrast, viewing intellectual ability as a quality that could be developed led them to seek active and effective remedies in the face of difficulties
This petulant belief that programming ability is a gift, rather than a skill, often surfaces as a flimsy rationale for the gender imbalance in technology, but actually serves to reinforce the problem.

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I write here about programming, how to program better, things I think are neat and are related to programming. I might write other things at my personal website.

I am happily employed by the excellent Caktus Group, located in beautiful and friendly Carrboro, NC, where I work with Python, Django, and Javascript.

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