I love computers! I have been passionate about this for as long as I can remember. I disassembled and broke my first computer when I was 5 years old, learned to fix it by 7 and well I always knew my life would revolve around it. When I was in high school, I was a prodigy, easily going through the topic and ending up becoming my teacher’s favorite. He also happened to be one of my mentors, and it was from him that I became inspired to really become better at everything related to computers.
Sadly, I end up going to the health sciences in college, got a bachelors and masters in nursing, and when I got my license to practice, I really thought that my life with computers would just fall in the category of being just a hobby.
But as fate would have it, my destiny unfolded in a way that I didn’t expect. I got into teaching, not nursing, but computers.
I have been teaching for almost four years, in that time, I realized that what I love more than computers is teaching it.
I remember having to sit through my programming class back in high-school, and my mentor was so passionate in what he was teaching that it was infectious. His enthusiasm radiated at such an intensity that I was overwhelmed by the topic, yet I craved more of it daily.
And this rubbed off on me. I discovered the power of loving what you do, that it could somehow transfer to your audience and stick with them for years to come. So this was my teaching style, to love what you do and let your students know it. When I enter class with a stern look on my face, and my students begin to fear my presence, I know I have their attention. It’s at this moment that I break out into stand-up comic mode to introduce the topic.
“I was just like you guys back when I started college” I say to my freshman Engineering majors. “I had a lot of energy, so much energy that I began hitting on the first girl I saw”
They began to giggle.
“Oh, but that was nothing” I continue “when things didn’t work out with her, I began hitting on her seatmate”
This lead to an eruption of laughter from everyone in the room. I paused and took in the crowd, this was my roar that gave me power to push through with the day. And when they faded to silence, and I had their attention again, I continued.
“But of course, things didn’t work out with her as well. So I hit on the girl behind them.” some giggle, some just had big smiles. “but of course it won’t work out too. In just one week, I manage to hit on everything that looked female in the room” and the laughter erupted once again. “Soon, in just my first year in college I managed to date or almost date every girl in my batch!”
“It’s a vicious cycle!” I exclaimed “And I guess that’s life, you date a girl, she begins to like you, then she gets to know you and two hours later, she dumps you”
The class was just laughing continuously at this story, so I just kept on talking.
“By the time you’re 60 and dying, you must have dated 400 girls, and ended up having sex with -5 of them”
And that killed the crowd, for about a minute they were laughing, the boys giving high fives and the girls smirking with thoughts of how pathetic their professor’s love life must be.
“So it’s sad isn’t it?” I asked “Does anybody here want that kind of life? Having a deficit with your sex life?” And they all gestured no. “So what do you do? You set a goal, that after the 200th girl, I will stop dating for good, you have to terminate the cycle, stick to number 200 and never move on and die sad lonely man…” and they continue laughing.
As the laughter faded, I drew the flowchart to describe a loop with the story as a basis for the algorithm of for & while in Java.Later they would be practicing making their own loops, and while I sit down on my desk observing the academic discussion occuring before me as my students discuss how best to tackle the problems, how they get frustrated but still motivated to get the problem right, how they fail and come to me to ask for help. It’s during these moments that I truly love being a teacher.
At the end of class, only a few pairs end with getting the right answer, a lot of them got their algorithms wrong and leave the room disappointed. But I’m not worried, because as they pass their failed works, they say to me: “We’ll try better next time sir” and that’s why I keep coming back the next meeting, because I believe that the next time I do meet them, they’ll be smarter than the last time.