Knowledge Is Good
By David Riggs
I recently read In the Basement of the Ivory Tower, a provocative article in The Atlantic (June, 2008). Written anonymously by Professor X (obviously for fear of compromising his employment status), the author takes umbrage with the idea that everyone deserves and, more importantly, is even prepared to attain a college education. The underlying tone is an indictment of our educational system and society in general. But the main point, clearly stated, is that some people simply do not belong in a college classroom.
Being college-educated I can reflect on this article on several levels. I m reminded of the line from Caddyshack when, responding negatively to a request about a college scholarship, the pompous Judge Smails tells his young caddy that the world needs ditch diggers, Danny. But I m also reminded of the motto on the statue of Faber College s founder in the movie Animal House: Knowledge Is Good.
Don t get me wrong: resorting to the lowest common denominator notwithstanding, or even dating myself by the movies I quote, I do think being educated, and having the opportunity to become educated, is important. I am absolutely in favor of people challenging and bettering themselves, broadening their horizons, knowing as much about the world around them as possible. There s absolutely no reason a ditch digger should not have an education. Sadly, not everyone is equipped for this.
And if you push me, I ll argue the merits of a liberal arts education where you can take courses in philosophy and physics, art and aeronautics over the larger institutions that pigeon hole students the minute they step foot on campus. Where s the exploration? The sense of discovery? The desire to be well rounded? Who on earth decided you can t be in the choir if you re not a music major?!? Don t get me started ...
The thing is, having an education does not mean you are smart. And vice versa. I know programmers who hold doctoral degrees, and I know programmers who never attended college. It s all about aptitude and attitude. Do what you love, and do it to the best of your ability. I m sure it helps to have the benefit of a higher education when applying for certain jobs or negotiating salaries. But those I know who are self-taught have just as much passion and commitment to developing top-notch programs as those with college degrees. And in some cases, maybe their street smarts the proverbial school of hard knocks gives them an advantage: perseverance, thinking outside the box, work ethic.
Besides, the name of the game in this industry, like most, is results. What have you done for me lately? You must keep producing, keep wowing your boss, keep impressing your clients. It all boils down to whether or not you have the mind set and desire to learn, to get better at what you do. Knowledge is good.
That s where we come in. We target a world-class audience of developers. And no matter where you are in your pursuit of higher learning, you can think of asp.netPRO as part of your continuing education. Dare I say it s required reading? We teach by example. By showing valuable programming techniques in action through real-world apps and code we help professional software developers build, deploy, and run the next generation of dynamic, distributed Web applications. And as ASP.NET has matured, so has asp.netPRO grown to meet the needs of our readers and the needs of the ASP.NET developer community.
Thanks for reading. Class dismissed.
David Riggs is editor-in-chief of asp.netPRO and its companion e-newsletter, asp.netNOW. Reach him at mailto:[email protected].