The Most Important IT Skill

My wife and I attended Curriculum Night at the high school where our boys attend.  It had already been a busy week (and frustrating one if you count the removal of a poorly designed kitchen faucet).  But Curriculum Night is something I have enjoyed for many years and would not consider missing it!

My son is enrolled in AP Programming so I was very curious about the curriculum AND the teacher.  I was impressed with the cognitive level of assignments he had last year, and this AP course had my expectations high.  I sat through informative yet similar sounding sessions on Pre-Calc, English, and Physics before hearing about the AP Programming course.

When I arrived for the session on AP Programming, the teacher greeted me with a hardy handshake, an excited “Welcome!”, and invited me to sit where my son usually sits.  He was animated and nerdy (cool).  He had spent ten years in the industry before deciding to teach (nice).

He started talking about the curriculum, noted the students receive one new programming concept per week (they are working on arrays this week), and finished with how their work is evaluated.  My interest grew.

Students are expected to review each others’ work, note the differences between the implementations, and they are invited to speak in front of the class about their discoveries.  The teacher stated the ability to communicate was as important as learning how to write programs!

I was elated.  An experience in collaboration and empathy respectfully facilitated by the students is a great IT lesson.  In my journey through my testing career, I discovered that, as a Test Lead or Tester, testing is a very social activity.  The ability to convey and negotiate ideas, collaborate with multiple personalities, and develop a working team has been as rewarding as writing programs and tests.  Getting that experience in high school is like preventing defects early in the project!

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One thought on “The Most Important IT Skill

  1. ljhudie

    This is awesome news, Joe! In the global economy that we live in, it is imperative that we be able to communicate and collaborate to accomplish goals together. We need to remember that today, we not only are working with others in different countries, but we sometimes are competing with them. We know that many people can learn how to program or test, but to be able to build teams and accomplish goals is a critical skill.

    I also wish that they would teach students how to build self esteem, self confidence, and how to recover when these traits are compromised or destroyed. Whether companies will admit, there is a lot of bullying going on and the ability to recover is imperative.

    Thank you for the post!

    Reply

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