TITLE: Honey Rather Than Vinegar AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: February 04, 2005 1:30 PM DESC: A recent blog post by another professor helps me settle down over the topic of my own recent posts. ----- BODY: While reading about the muddled state of Groovy, I ran across a blog post on the topic of trying to get students to adopt new practices. Greg Wilson writes on his blog Pyre:
It's easy to make students jump through hoops in a course. What's hard is convincing them that jumping through those hoops after the course is over really will make their lives better. The best way I've found so far is to bring in experienced programmers who are doing exciting things, and have them say, "Comments, version control, test-driven development..."
Earlier in the same entry, he suggests that XP succeeds not because of its particular practices, but rather...
... that what really matters is deciding that you want to be a better programmer. If you make a sincere commitment to that, then exactly how you get there is a detail.
That's spot on with what I said in my last message. Learning happens when a person opens himself to change. That openness makes it possible for the learner to make the commitment to a new behavior. With that commitment, even small changes in practice can grow to large changes in capability. And I certainly concur with Gregg's advice to bring in outsiders who are doing cool things. Some students reach a level of internal motivation in that way that they will never reach through being asked to change on their own. -----