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Comment: Re: Your Results Will Vary (Score 1) 241

by the phantom (#47517453) Attached to: Math, Programming, and Language Learning

I am honestly very confused about what your point is. In response to another poster, Coryoth rebutted that the college was supposed to be about education, not vocational training. You incorrectly assumed that s/he was arguing that college was about creating well-rounded people. I responded that creating well-rounded people was not the point and that requiring students to take classes outside of their major was perhaps a historical anachronism (among other reasons, which are highlighted in, for instance, the article I linked above). You are the only person in the entire thread to have brought up the "well-rounded person" trope, and that was only to dismiss it. The only reason I replied was to point out that the well-rounded person argument isn't one that anyone with a clue seriously makes.

Comment: Re: Your Results Will Vary (Score 1) 241

by the phantom (#47511843) Attached to: Math, Programming, and Language Learning

Who, specifically, is making that argument? I don't think I have ever seen anyone argue that the primary goal of a college education was to create well-rounded people. Not even Coryoth, the person to whom you originally replied, made that argument. I often see it as a justification for requiring non-major classes, but I have never seen anyone claim that this is the primary goal. See, for instance, the The Chronicle of Higher Education's compilation of answers to the question. Most of the respondents argue that higher education is about learning critical thinking skills, building a foundation of knowledge for future work, and providing students with the necessary information to choose a career-path that is of interest to them.

My original point still stands: universities were first established to foster research. Students went to college to become academics and to make contributions to human knowledge. Over time, the emphasis has shifted towards more vocational or professional training though much of the curriculum remains the same (possibly due to institutional inertia). At no time was the primary goal of a college education to become a "well-rounded" person.

To be clear, I am not arguing that there is no merit to the observation that a liberal education produces well-rounded people, and I am not arguing that this is a bad (or good) thing. I am merely attempting to point out that the primary goal of higher education is not simply to produce such people, nor has it ever been.

Comment: Re: Your Results Will Vary (Score 1) 241

by the phantom (#47503557) Attached to: Math, Programming, and Language Learning

Yes, goals have changed, but I maintain that the goal of the higher education system has never been to create well-rounded people. In the early days, it was about training academics. Even today, many faculty and administrators at universities will claim that this is the goal of a university education. As I noted above, the university curriculum is still structured around the 400+ year old ideal of scholarship. In large part, students are required to take classes outside of their majors because that is the way it has always been done and because this system has produced pretty good results for a fairly long time.

Moreover, if you want to argue that there has been some period in time that people went to universities in order to become well-rounded people, I would invite you to describe that period. My understanding of the history of such institutions is that they emphasized training academics until the mid-20th century. In the post-War period during the coldest parts of the Cold War, a great deal of funding was put towards training engineers and physicists to design weapons and such, and as time passed people in industry began to realize that trained academics made pretty good employees, which is how we get to the modern idea that higher education should be a kind of vocational training. Do you dispute this history, or do you feel that I am missing something? When was the goal of higher education ever to produce well-rounded people?

Comment: Re:Bizzarre, Capt Obvious much ? (Score 1) 241

by the phantom (#47487315) Attached to: Math, Programming, and Language Learning

Does this guy actually have evidence of anyone seriously making the point he is refuting ?

Kun is responding fairly explicitly to Sarah Mei's post Programming Is Not Math, as evidenced by the link in the third paragraph of his post, as well as the copious quotes that he reproduces and replies to. Having also taken the time to read Mei's post, it would appear that (a) Kun is not misrepresenting her point of view, and (b) she is sincere in her opinion. So yes, I would say that Kun has evidence that at least one person is seriously making the point that he is refuting.

Comment: Re: Your Results Will Vary (Score 1) 241

by the phantom (#47487281) Attached to: Math, Programming, and Language Learning

Of course the reality is that you don't need any of those subjects. Those subjects can, however, be very useful to you as a programmer. So yes you can certainly be a programmer, and even a very successful and productive one without any knowledge of calculus, or graph theory say. On the other hand, there may well be times when graph theory, or calculus, or statistics could prove very useful. what it comes down to is whether you are inclined to think that way -- and if so it can be a benefit; if not it won't be the way you think about the problem anyway.

Which is almost exactly the point that the author of the linked article makes:

Not every programmer deals with these [mathematical] questions regularly (which is why I don’t think math is necessary to be a programmer), but if you want to be a great programmer you had better bet you’ll need it.

Comment: Re: Your Results Will Vary (Score 2) 241

by the phantom (#47487265) Attached to: Math, Programming, and Language Learning
It isn't even about creating well-rounded people, and never really was---the point of a college education was to become an academic. You went to college because your end-goal was research. Of course, at that point in history the alternative was likely monastic life because your older brother was going to get the farm... That being said, it wasn't really until the middle of the 20th century that college was seen as a way of advancing a career outside of academia. Whether or not you believe that the role of universities *should* be vocational training, the curriculum and organization of institutions of higher education---particularly research universities---is still geared toward that Enlightenment ideal of academia.

Comment: Re:Can an "atheist company" refuse too? (Score 2) 1330

How narrow is the ruling, really? SCOTUS declared that any closely held business has the right to refuse to pay for insurance that covers contraception if the owners have a religious objection. This may account for about half of private sector employment in the US [citation; there is a linked pdf from the Stern School in the third paragraph]. My Google-fu is not terribly good, and I am having trouble pinning down exactly what proportion of the total America workforce this represents---recent employment reports from BLS seem to indicate something on the order of 70% of the workforce is in the private sector. Assuming that this number is correct, something like 35% of the workforce is employed by closely held businesses. So while the jurisprudence may appear narrow, the effect is potentially quite large.

Comment: Re:They hate our freedom (Score 1) 404

by the phantom (#47319341) Attached to: San Francisco Bans Parking Spot Auctioning App

I think that we substantially agree. There are people that live in the city and need to get around within the city and there are people commute in. If one is going to completely eliminate downtown parking, then public transit needs to be good enough to provide for the people that live downtown. Personally, I would love it if transit were that good---I hate driving, especially in any traffic. However, I think that it is unrealistic to expect that public transit will ever be that good in all but a very few American cities (at least, not any time soon). In the meantime, if public transit is good enough to keep the tourists and commuters from gobbling up too much parking downtown, the problem is ameliorated to some degree.

In any event, thank you for the clarification and the lack of snark. It is unusual to meet rational people on the internet, and I apologize for whatever snark I may have snuck into my previous post.

Comment: Re:They hate our freedom (Score 1) 404

by the phantom (#47316969) Attached to: San Francisco Bans Parking Spot Auctioning App
What does any of that have to do with what I posted? You stated that the public transit system must be good enough to completely eliminate the need for downtown residents to own a car. My counter is that downtown residents are not the biggest problem, but that tourists and commuters are. Public transportation does not need to be good enough to completely replace the cars of downtown residents (which seems to be your claim, unless I am badly misunderstanding the comment to which I originally replied), but rather it needs to be good enough to encourage non-residents to park away from the core and hop onto a bus or train for the last couple of miles.

Comment: Re:They hate our freedom (Score 1) 404

by the phantom (#47309545) Attached to: San Francisco Bans Parking Spot Auctioning App
Most of the people parking in downtown SF do not live in downtown SF. The transit system does not need to be good enough to allow people to not own a car, it simply needs to be good enough to encourage people to use it instead of driving into the city. Personally, I think that public transit in SF is pretty close to this goal (though maybe not entirely there fore the daily commuter)---when my wife and I visit the Bay, we generally park at one of the BART stations in Berkerly or Oakland (where parking is available and not too expensive), then take the train into the city. From there, SF is mostly walkable or busable.

"You don't go out and kick a mad dog. If you have a mad dog with rabies, you take a gun and shoot him." -- Pat Robertson, TV Evangelist, about Muammar Kadhafy

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