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Re: So it's homework - so what?

by mikeB (Friar)
on Oct 25, 2001 at 22:51 UTC ( #121517=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to So it's homework - so what?

The point of homework is not getting the right answer, but going through the process to arrive at that answer. This is why many math and science teachers require "proofs" - documentation of intermediate steps along the way.

Giving someone the final answer to a homework problem "helps" them only in the short term, i.e., they may get a good grade on the assignment. In the long term, they are cheating themselves, as they will not know how to arrive at the answer the next time a similar question comes up. I imaging that after a while, any mother would get tired of her 30-something child calling home - "Mom, how long for steaks", "Mom, how long for pork chops" - finally sending that child a cookbook and telling them to, essentially, RTFM.

By giving the final answer to homework, we deprive that student of the education they, or their parents, are paying for. We also contribute to poor habits that will haunt them later, when they finally, hopefully, get a real job.

If, on the other hand, we kindly point them to the proper resources and <gently> show them the right direction, we help them learn, and learn how to learn.

The difference between homework and some of the questions asked by more senior monks here is the level of documentation that exists for the question. There are a plethora of resources available for learning beginning Perl, and no small number of them are available on-line at the same cost as entering the monastery. These basic questions are best answered with a pointer to the appropriate works and some gentle guidance.

On the other hand few reference works, if any, exist for certain classes of questions (JAPH and obfu, for instance :) and references for other items including, unfortunately, many CPAN modules, is lacking. Another class of problem exists where it may be beyond the seeker's ability to research the answer on their own, due to required knowledge of other fields such as operating systems. It is in these cases where the varied experiences of our diverse monks become an important resource worth documenting in the monastery so they are available to become part of the larger "manual".

Some of the very gifted monks here also live on the bleeding edge, developing new "perlish" algorithms and discovering ways to (ab?)use the language that were not envisioned by the designer. Discussion and documentation of these new ideas helps make them available to the general population.

So, just as grandma would, we should stand at the counter with our aspiring cook and walk him or her through the steps in the cookbook, letting them do the work with our hints along the way, and celebrating with them when it comes of of the oven smelling wonderfully. Because even if it's not perfect, the pie always tastes better if it's homemade :)

Anyway... J(the thoughts of)aPh, mikeB

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