An Algorithmic and Social Introduction to Computer Science (CSC-105 2000S)

Responses to Questions and Comments from Introductory Survey

You may also want to look at my responses to questions from CSC152 and my responses to questions from CSC364.


What did your father do?

You mention that your mother was a teacher. What did your father do?

My father was a businesscritter at Polaroid. I don't know all of his job titles, but he spent a lot of time in charge of equal opportunity, and I've been told that he crafted some very forward-looking policies for the time (60s and 70s). He got his first job at Polaroid on sheer chutzpah. The job posting asked for someone with a master's degree in engineering. Dad want in being one course short of a bachelor's degree and convinced them he was the right person for the job. It appears he did well. Dad also helped set up the first Polaroid plant in Holland (in Enschede, I believe, even if I probably spelled it wrong).

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Newton, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston. I lived there more-or-less until I went to college, except for a two-year stint in the Netherlands from ages 1-3.

Are you a sports fan?

Are you a sports fan? If so, who do you want to win the Super Bowl?

I am a casual sports fan. Growing up, I was a big Celtics fan (in the pre-Bird post-Russell era) and lived through some fairly bad seasons. I watch basketball once in a while and try to have a football game on in the background during the season. I like both of the teams in the Super Bowl, and don't really care who wins.

Did you watch the computer age evolve?

Do you feel like you have watched the ``computer age'' evolve and how hard has it been to grow with it?

I've certainly seen a huge evolution in how people work with computers, although I must admit that I tend to use computers the same way that I did as an undergraduate. Back then, I communicated with people on the Internet with email, read newsgroups (instead of Web pages), and played with different systems for formatting text. Many things are faster, and more people are involved, but, for me, it's the same basic interaction.

I'm clearly in the middle generation. Younger people, particularly those who used the Web before college, have much different expectations about how to get information from a computer. Older people often have difficulty dealing with the technology.

My wife and I were recently discussing the effects of other technologies. Back when we were college students, VCRs were rare things. Special events on TV were one-time chances. We felt privileged to have access to the UofC's film collection, so we could watch Singing in the Rain and other films more-or-less whenever we wanted. Your generation has grown up with VCRs and the assumption that you can watch things when you want to. Has that given us different expectations for how the world reacts to us? It may be. Those differences are reflected not just in computers, but in how different generations deal with the world around them.

(Yeah, I know that rambled a little bit.)


Why Grinnell?

Why are you teaching at Grinnell instead of a larger school? Did Michelle's career influence the move?

I wanted to teach at a school that cared about teaching, that had good students who wanted to learn, and that supported faculty research. Grinnell really does seem to be my kind of school. In 105, you could see that from the answers you gave to questions: most of you are in 105 because you want to learn, not because you have to or you want a job or .... I like the small classes and I like that I get to know my students well.

Believe it or not, Michelle followed me to Grinnell. As a family physician, she can work almost anywhere. However, she really likes it in Grinnell, and she gets to do things that would be harder to do elsewhere.

Why did I come to Grinnell in the first place? Because it seemed to be the type of school I wanted and because they were hiring in computer science the year I was looking. I've mostly loved it since I've been here, although I could certainly do without three-course semesters.

Why Chicago?

Why did you go to the University of Chicago?

Both parents went there, and I believe there's a rule that you have to sacrifice your first-born to the UofC. I didn't think very hard about college. I applied to three schools early admission (which I think you were allowed to do in those days): Yale, MIT, and Chicago. I got in to MIT and Chicago, and decided that I'd prefer to go to Chicago (further away, more diverse education). I'd done a summer program at Chicago between my junior and senior years of High School, and it seemed to be a place that I'd like.

How did you know what you wanted to do?

How did you know that you wanted to be a computer science teacher?

I'm sure I have this answered somewhere, but I don't mind answering it again. My mother taught Psychology at Boston University, and seeing the impact she had on her students made me want to teach. I learned late in my undergraduate career that I like computer science. Putting the two together led me to become a CS teacher. I like teaching enough that I put up with making less than many of my students.


Thursday, 20 January 2000

Tuesday, 25 January 2000

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