The danger of degrees

I find it all too predictable how the expansion of “computer science education” over the last two decades has created a whole class of “programmers” who can’t actually program anything:

I wrote that article in 2007, and I am stunned, but not entirely surprised, to hear that three years later “the vast majority” of so-called programmers who apply for a programming job interview are unable to write the smallest of programs. To be clear, hard is a relative term — we’re not talking about complicated, Google-style graduate computer science interview problems. This is extremely simple stuff we’re asking candidates to do. And they can’t. It’s the equivalent of attempting to hire a truck driver and finding out that 90 percent of the job applicants can’t find the gas pedal or the gear shift.

I agree, it’s insane. But it happens every day, and is (apparently) an epidemic hiring problem in our industry.

Some of the best and most successful programmers I know still don’t even have college degrees. They might not be able to get past the average corporation’s HR department, but then, they don’t need to. I don’t know how anyone can still argue that education is the answer to anything when, in its current form, it produces junior high school students who can’t read, high school graduates who can’t do math, and college graduates who can’t program.

I still remember playing Ultima I with a young friend. He was a few years younger than me but was an accomplished Apple II programmer at the age of 12.