[Melbourne-pm] Training + experience = expertise? (Was: SPUG: Introducing The Perl College)

Damian Conway damian at conway.org
Sun Mar 2 18:15:43 PST 2008

Nathan Bailey <Nathan.Bailey at its.monash.edu> asked:

> Is it just training? or is there also some "on the job" experience?
>  As good as Damian is, I don't think a week of Damian turns a junior
>  into an intermediate - you need to also apply that knowledge for a
>  period of time before you really retain/attain it.

Sure. We're not pretending to transform beginners into anything except
much-better-educated beginners. The experience comes from the
sponsoring employers who hire them after the training. And what's in
it for the employers? They get people who are, if not yet experienced,
then at least "sorted out" in terms of the kind of knowledge and
understanding they'll need to progress to intermediate status. And who
were keen enough to spend a week improving their Perl knowledge.

I've seen a lot of programmers who never really graduate beyond
beginner competence because their understanding of Perl is flawed, or
ad hoc, or distorted by previous exposure to other languages. So what
I focus on is improving my student's conceptual understanding of
Perl....giving them better metaphors and a more accurate mental model
of how Perl actually works. That certainly doesn't make them
intermediate programmers, but it does remove many of the obstacles to
them becoming intermediate programmers.

We're not claiming miracles. We're claiming that we can give employers
access to a pool of 20-25 motivated Perl programmers who are actively
looking for a new job and who are freshly grounded in better Perl
theory and practices. The employers get a chance to see these people
interacting in the classroom environment (and you can tell a *lot*
about a person by the way they participate in training), and the
chance to pitch to these prospective employees during the week. We're
betting that's worth something to employers (compared to the often
fruitless and expensive task of simply advertising for new


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