October 14th, 2006

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This tutoring business

So yesterday (Thursday), I spent two hour-long sessions (and another two hours of labs) tutoring the poor wee first year undergrads on MIPS32 assembly programming as part of the Computer Systems Architecture course here at Nottingham. Perhaps a not immediately-obvious rôle for an otherwise functional PL hacker, but I have served time (and fun times they were) in industry writing assembly code for my misdemeanours, so maybe that counts for something. It's always good for the soul to know what's going on underneath the bonnet.

This being my first time, things went amazingly smoothly. (Will have to find more working flip chart markers next time.) The range of the students' abilities was a little wider than I'd anticipated though. (To the extent where I'm wondering about basic computer literacy skills at one end… do they point out the distinction between document processors and text editors at school these days? The other extreme of the spectrum was rather refreshing though: seems that some students have already learnt to learn by reading up on reference material for themselves, as opposed to being spoon-fed.) The course is compulsory even for IT management degrees. Why? I don't quite understand either.

Will have to see if we (not in the royal sense; for I am not the sole conspirator, at least not this time 'round) can prop the bottom end up a little higher…