Saturday, August 6, 2011

On Further Education

The student's biggest problem was a slave mentality which had been built
into him by years of carrot-and- whip grading, a mule mentality which said,
``If you don't whip me, I won't work.'' He didn't get whipped. He didn't
work. And the cart of civilization, which he supposedly was being trained to
pull, was just going to have to creak along a little slower without him.

The hypothetical student, still a mule, would drift around for a while. He would get another kind of education quite as valuable as the one he'd abandoned, in what used to be called the ``school of hard knocks.'' Instead of wasting money and time as a high-status mule, he would now have to get a job as a low-status mule, maybe as a mechanic. Actually his real status

would go up. He would be making a contribution for a change. Maybe that's what he would do for the rest of his life. Maybe he'd found his level. But don't count on it. In time...six months; five years, perhaps...a change could easily begin to take place. He would become less and less satisfied with a kind of dumb, day-to-day shop work. His creative intelligence, stifled by too much theory and too many grades in college, would now become reawakened by the boredom of the shop. Thousands of hours of frustrating mechanical problems would have made him more interested in machine design. He would like to design machinery himself. He'd think he could do a better job. He would try modifying a few engines, meet with success, look for more success, but feel blocked because he didn't have the theoretical information. He would discover that when before he felt stupid because of his lack of interest in theoretical information, he'd now find a brand of theoretical information which he'd have a lot of respect for, namely, mechanical engineering.

So he would come back to our degreeless and gradeless school, but with a difference. He'd no longer be a grade-motivated person. He'd be a knowledge-motivated person. He would need no external pushing to learn. His push would come from inside. He'd be a free man. He wouldn't need a lot of discipline to shape him up. In fact, if the instructors assigned him were slacking on the job he would be likely to shape them up by asking rude questions. He'd be there to learn something, would be paying to learn something and they'd better come up with it.

Motivation of this sort, once it catches hold, is a ferocious force, and in the gradeless, degreeless institution where our student would find himself, he wouldn't stop with rote engineering information. Physics and mathematics were going to come within his sphere of interest because he'd see he needed them. Metallurgy and electrical engineering would come up for attention. And, in the process of intellectual maturing that these abstract studies gave
him, he would he likely to branch out into other theoretical areas that weren't directly related to machines but had become a part of a newer larger goal. This larger goal wouldn't be the imitation of education in Universities today, glossed over and concealed by grades and degrees that give the appearance of something happening when, in fact, almost nothing is going on. It would be the real thing. "
- Robert M Pirsig - Zen and the art of Motorcycle Maintenance

The above excerpt is an awesome direction , if some one is thinking of further education like Masters , MBA or a Doctoral Programme after having couple of years of Industrial experience !

Every Engineering aspect has a Science form behind it ( and an art form too which I wont talk about it here ) . A typical example would be to "build a Rocket" (Engineering ) we need "Netwon's laws" (Science ) , analogously in Software too , every aspect of building a product ( Design , Coding , Testing , Management ) has a science form behind it . Only when we abstract out our daily tasks as an engineer and look at the science form beneath it and see if we can apply any latest developments from scientific research ( theoretically advanced algorithms , testing methodologies , management lessons etc ) ( and practising such thing is an art in itself !) we can excel in making better products and better world !

1 comment:

Swaroop C H said...

Great point. Masters would mean more specialization or exploration which would require a solid fundamentals.