Aren’t Developers Anti-Social, Wouldn’t They Make Terrible Teachers?

This is an article about the connection between programmers and teachers. A trend Ive spotted across almost all developers is a huge passion to share knowledge.

The quick stereo-typical answer to that seems yes. We prefer spending most of our day communicating with a machine using a strange cryptic language and Boolean logic.

Yes, that sounds a bit on the anti social side. A side effect of doing that for long periods of time without a break can sometimes mean a socially awkward moment or two. It’s a bit like sailing a boat on your own all day. When you get back to land it’s initially a bit jarring and you’ve not seen people for a while so they seem a bit odd at first.

But the more I think about the question and the developers I’ve worked with, the more I can find an overwhelming no to that answer. Developers are the really opposite. We’re much more sociable than you think.

The classic developer stereotype is as follows:

socially awkward, slightly anxious, practically mute/mono-syllabic, over caffeinated, likes sweets/candies/biscuits/crisps, probably a bit ADHD/shiny_new_things_all_the_time_oh_look_whats_that_I_need_that, gets irritable when asked “obvious” questions, questionable personal hygiene…

I could go on and having been in this industry for almost two decades it’s hard to disagree with some of those. But there’s a part missing from the stereotype and it’s a part that needs to be added to list. It’s this:

Developers love to share knowledge and they love to teach

I actually think that in the main developers love sharing knowledge sharing and most that I’ve seen are pretty good teachers too. In fact, if you really want to see a developer reveal this side of their character just go and ask one to show off what they’re working on.

If you’ve worked with developers at all you’ve probably already seen ‘developer excitus’ in the wild but if not you might be pleasantly surprised by your encounter.

Developer Excitus is the natural state of the person who often sits mutely/muttering at the screen all day. Ironically, we’re naturally enthusiastic about new things and just love to tell people about it. Problem is we’re in front of machines all day and machines don’t like hearing about new stuff.

When asked to demonstrate a new product feature, an obscure operating system rune or some code, what you’ll see is a wonderful transformation from developer to teacher. Usually full of energy, passion and desire to help.

How good we are at teaching is another topic altogether and one I’ll find out this month as I start trying to teach children to code. But one thing I’m certain about is the passion that’s there to help others learn about technology. I genuinely struggle to think of a developer that didn’t like doing it. Actually, I can think of one but he also preferred lying underneath his desk without any shoes on.

The upshot of this is great for the plans to help re-structure the way we teach our children how to use technology because if we can get the children connected to the developers I believe we can do incredible things in a very scalable way!

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