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Smaller Lies

Mentoring is something that is in my DNA. When I was in college I remember not just trying to learn what the teacher was presenting, but I'd also pay attention to how the teachers conducted their lectures. In some cases I'd think to myself that if I were at the podium, I'd present this subject differently.

I have never formally taught any class (although that is definitely in my list of things to do one day) but now I frequently find myself serving as a mentor to a less senior developer or a new team mate. It's not the same thing, but it has enough in common with teaching to make my college memories useful.

Back to my college days, in that brain-draining BSEE curriculum, one of the clearest demonstrations of teaching skills was given to me in a way that I will never forget.

One of those semesters I was attending the Cryptography class and I just couldn't stand the way the teacher was presenting her material. Incredibly boring projector presentations, mostly reading from them and making no effort to keep the class awake. After I got my horrible results in the first round of exams, I was considering getting out of that class and coming back next semester. People kept telling me to not do that because the new teacher for the next semester was rumored to be tough and very serious about his classes.

After a little hesitation, I decided to get out of that class and I was back in the following semester, new teacher and all. That was the best decision I made in the entire course.

Mr. Campello was the best teacher I ever had. That guy had passion for Electrical Engineering, Cryptography, and for teaching.

Differently from the previous semester, his classes were packed. Students would not want to miss a second of each class. He would deliver never ending nuggets of wisdom, incredible stories about how cryptography has been important throughout history. War stories. Ancient history. You name it. They guy knew it all. Cryptography became one of my favorite subjects, even though it's mostly advanced discrete arithmetic, which is as boring as it gets.

During one of those classes Mr. Campello dropped a monster bomb of a quote. I don't know if that quote is his original, or if he was quoting somebody else. I don't even remember the context in which this quote came about. He said:

"Teaching is like telling a smaller lie everyday"

I won't bother explaining the power of that statement. I'll leave for your own analysis. I don't think there's any other thing that somebody told me that had similar impact that this quote.

Replace teaching with mentoring, parenting, modeling, etc and you've got yourself a lot to think about.

Posted 06-29-2008 9:56 PM by sergiopereira
Filed under:



Derik Whittaker wrote re: Smaller Lies
on 06-30-2008 8:12 AM

Great post.

I get just as much if not more satisfaction from teaching and mentoring as I do coding.  To be able to see someone 'get it' or to understand a concept is vastly rewarding.  

I also find that I learn something everything I help to mentor someone.  It requires me to think about the problem space is different light.

I also see mentoring, teaching as the next step in my career as it is a way that I can help teach our craft to the next generation of kick ass developers.  Hopefully, the guys that I am teach will go on to be brighter and smarter than I ever was (should not be all that hard :)).

Arjan`s World » LINKBLOG for July 1, 2008 wrote Arjan`s World » LINKBLOG for July 1, 2008
on 07-01-2008 3:47 PM

Pingback from  Arjan`s World    » LINKBLOG for July 1, 2008

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