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ehmatthes173 karma

Thank you for answering this question; this is why I was looking forward to your response.

A valuable role you might play in this conversation is to simply state what you just said, a little more formally, in a place that people could link to when these initiatives come up in individual places around the country. You don't need to find a way to evaluate teachers, if that is not your focus. But if you are willing to help call out inadequate approaches when they arise, you could help educators maintain a positive focus on helping students rather than defending themselves and the profession.

Would you consider writing a post about this issue? It was the top question in this whole AMA, so it is clearly important to a good number of people.

ehmatthes41 karma

I second this. I don't trust most bureaucrats/ bureaucracies to implement this, because of a lack of understanding of statistics and a lack of integrity about the use of statistics in public education. I would greatly respect your perspective on this question.

ehmatthes37 karma

I sure felt like Forrest Gump when I reached Alaska, and despite all the beauty around me I really just wanted to be done. And I do like chocolate.

ehmatthes25 karma

That's a really good question. In the early days of computing, everyone who wrote about programming was a programmer first, and probably had very little experience teaching. So people were primarily writing to communicate technical ideas to each other, and the communication style was less of a focus than the technical information.

When Python was developed, one of the core ideas was valuing programmer time over computer time. This core philosophy resulted in a language that tends to be cleaner, and less verbose than many other languages. Python programs tend to be much shorter than equivalent programs written in other languages.

This cleanliness and clarity makes Python really well suited to beginning programmers, and to people who work primarily in another field but need to do some programming in their work. For example, the science community has fully embraced Python, for a variety of reasons.

There's a saying in the Python world: "I came for the language, but I stayed for the community." The leaders in the Python community have cultivated a welcoming community as well as a strong technical language. A lot of people have paid attention to how easily beginners are able to pick up the language, which has resulted in some higher-quality learning resources than what you see in languages where there has been less of a focus on building a welcoming community.

That's a bit of a rambling answer, but I'm happy to expand on any of these areas you're curious about.

ehmatthes25 karma

Sure, there were lots of moments that stand out. I think the moment I saw my first grizzly was probably one of the moments I remember most clearly. Riding around the lower 48, people would ask where I was headed. When I said "Alaska", most people told me some reason I wouldn't be able to make it. "That's too far!" "You'll get hit by a truck!" "You'll be eaten by a bear!" I heard that kind of stuff so often I started to believe it a little bit.

As I headed towards the Pacific Northwest, I started thinking more about bears. I considered getting a gun, but a little research showed I couldn't realistically carry something big enough to make a difference in a bear encounter. But bear spray really does work. I met a guy in Bend, Oregon who had lived in Alaska and worked as a kayak guide. He'd been around lots of bears, and assured me you can learn to be around them safely.

I was riding a section of gravel road in British Columbia, and I saw a patch of matted grass on the side of the road. I thought to myself, "Oh, it looks like a bear slid down that grassy slope", and I imagined a bear happily sliding on its back. I then wondered if it was still nearby. I looked to my left, and found myself staring at the biggest bear I'd ever seen, about 10 feet away. I was already too close to stop, so I just kept pedaling steadily and started speaking loudly but not aggressively to it. It huffed at me, and squared its paws on the ground. I turned back and asked it not to eat me. It huffed again, and took one step forward. I just kept pedaling steadily, and it didn't chase me.

It's funny what prepared me for that moment. When I was in Florida, I got chased by two Rottweilers for about a mile. They would take turns darting at my front wheel, trying to make me fall. I just rode steadily and waited them out. That mindset works for bears as well.