Chapter29 - 29 Teaching the method E nding our study of...

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29 Teaching the method E nding our study of methodological issues, we turn our attention to one of the principal questions facing companies and universities that adopt object technology: how best to educate those who will have to apply it. This chapter presents teaching principles and points to common errors. The first part of the discussion takes the view of someone who is in charge of organizing a training program in a company; the following parts take the view of a university or high school professor. All emphasize the pedagogical issues of O-O training, and so they should be relevant to you even if you are in neither of these positions — in particular if you are a trainee rather than a trainer. 29.1 INDUSTRIAL TRAINING Let us start with a few general observations about how to teach object technology — either in public seminars or as part of an in-company training plan — to software professionals previously trained in other approaches. Paradoxically, the trainer’s task may be harder now than when object technology started to attract wide interest in the mid-eighties. It was new then to most people, and had an aura of heresy which made the audience listen. Today, no one will call security if one of the cocktail guests declares object-oriented tastes. This is the buzzword effect, which has been dubbed mOOzak : the omnipresence, in the computer press, of O-O this and O-O that, causing a general dilution of the concepts. The words flow so continuously from the loudspeakers — object, class, polymorphism — as to seem familiar, but are the concepts widely understood? Often not. This puts a new burden on the trainer: convincing the trainees that they do not yet know everything, since no one can learn a subject who thinks he already knows it. The only strategy guaranteed to overcome this problem applies the following plan: Initial training: the “hit them twice” strategy T1 • Take the initial training courses. T2 • Try your hand at O-O development. T3 • Take the initial training courses.
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TEACHING THE METHOD § 29.1 936 T3 is not a typo: after having tried to apply O-O ideas to real development, trainees take the class again. O-O training companies sometimes suggest this strategy to their customers, not always with success since it suspiciously looks like a marketing ploy to sell the same thing twice. But that is not the case. The second iteration is what really gets the concepts through. Although the first is necessary to provide the right background, it may not be fully effective; partly because of the mOOzak effect, your students may not quite internalize the concepts. Only when they have grappled with the day-to-day challenges of object-oriented software construction — Is a new class necessary for this concept ? Is this a proper use of inheritance ? Do these two features justify introducing a new node in the inheritance structure ? Is this design pattern from the course relevant here ? — will they have the necessary preparation to listen
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Chapter29 - 29 Teaching the method E nding our study of...

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