Hello pals! Here I am again! This time, I want to share with you something curious that happened at college some days ago. If you check my Twitter messages, maybe you noticed that I was working on my database final homework. The project scope wasn’t ambitious at all: I had to create some stored procedures in a relational database engine and then, execute them and show the results from a simple web application. Tricky? I don’t think so.
The funny thing happened when I had to present my project to the class and my teacher started to make questions. To make it easier, let me show you a little piece of our conversation:
My teacher: And tell us Tito, what software did you use for this project?
Me: Let me see… Apache, PHP and PostgreSQL
My teacher: PostgreSQL? Why?
Me: Well, it’s a relational database engine and that was part of the project requirements
My teacher: And it supports stored procedures?
Me: Yes sir!
My teacher: But… why didn’t you use Oracle? like the rest of the class?
Me: Because PostgreSQL is a good option
My teacher: Tito, the market says something different
Me: Well, my application is 20 seconds faster than the others
My teacher: You are missing the point… market choice is an important issue when you are going to look for a job
Me: And what’s the point about studying computer scientist if I can’t have my own criterion?
My teacher: Oh Tito, I forgot you are one of those “Free Software kids”… why are you always so obstinate?
Me: Because we think! (and then, I left the classroom).
In the next class, the teacher told us the grades and guess what? I got an “F“. My application was the fastest and well designed, but I got an “F“. ¿F? What the F…! This is unfair, oh! no doubt about it.
When I went to talk to my teacher about my grade, he said: “Nock it off Tito… you had to use Oracle and that’s all! please, stop complaining“.
Complaining? I didn’t have the chance to defend my point! Definitely, this post isn’t about technical stuff, this is about student’s rights. Students have rights… right? At least, I want to believe it.
I was thinking about talking to the college principal about this, but my classmates warned me clearly: that isn’t a good idea. They told me that if I try to argue about this, my teacher will take things in a personal way (I mean brutal revenge) and then, the database class is going to get _really_ tough. My classmates are afraid because if I do a pretty scandal on this, then, a war will begin and they’ll be punished. On the other hand, I don’t want to become the unpopular database class guy… so, my hands are tied for now while my teacher enjoys his dictatorship.
I wonder if someone ever experienced something like this? Did you? I would like to know about another cases, because I don’t know what to do. The only thing I know is that I want justice, I mean: I made the homework, it worked pretty well and I achieved all the project goals, but my prize is an “F“. Well, I don’t agree and I can say it thousands of times: this is unfair! It seems like my blog is the only place where I can relieve myself 😦
I can’t stop thinking about it… What’s the crime about using PostgreSQL if making some improvements I can obtain better results in my queries? What’s wrong being a “Free Software kid“? What should I become? a “Microsoft kid”? an “Oracle kid”? I wonder about what’s the fact which defines my grade. Will I be an “F” kid for the rest of my life? If I keep on using Free Software to do my homeworks, apparently I will :S
After this issue, I started to think on the direct relationship between the Software Industry and the Education Institutions. I guess you already realized this, but I must confess I never did it and now, it worries me… I mean, really. Teachers help us to define a lot of our skills as computer scientists, they represent an strong influence in our career which is a blessing when you meet a great teacher. Unfortunately, you will meet bad teachers too and some of those will be fanatics of some specific software products that probably you don’t like.
I have no problem using proprietary software for some of my homeworks if that’s necessary to understand a new concept, nevertheless, if there are open resources to replace the closed source software, why is sinful to use it?
I mean, it’s our college experience a branding experience? I thought computer science was about concepts and techniques, ideas that you can represent in many ways, not in just one. What seems horrible for me, it’s that for some teachers there only exists the “put_your_company_here way“, and the worst part of all is that they have the means to oblige you to use the software they want: your grade.
Considering all the “Campus Agreements” signed between companies and universities, colleges and schools, it’s easy to understand why the branding experience seems to be a long-term institutional feature for the next generations of students around the world.
I confess I feel confused and powerless on this one… I only hope to pass my Database class 😦
Any comments, advices or whatever are very welcome, my dear virtual friends! 🙂