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Should jaded people be allowed to teach?

I find much self-recognition when reading Dilbert. While I enjoy technology and building things, much of the real world of engineering sadly has a very strong human element. And unfortunately not the good warm and fuzzy aspect of the human element.

There are many good and noble efforts that get co-opted by silly humans and mutated into something ridiculous. Sadly many activities that I teach about fall into this category: Software Development Process, Risk Analysis, Security Policies Development. These are all important areas, and I’m sure that many good and earnest folks have done great work in these areas. Unfortunately, I’ve run into many other folks who have made a mockery of these processes through willful ignorance or just plain stupidity. Like my experience with “Agile” programming where only the unpleasant aspects of the process were cherry-picked, e.g., daily meetings but each meeting lasting an hour rather than ten minutes. So I can really empathize with items like the Elbonian Software Process in Dilbert.

Because these are important topics, I try to keep a positive spin when teaching about say risk analysis or security policy development. I try to show how these processes can solve real problems, and only point how they can be misused. Unfortunately, by the end of the lecture it becomes all too easy to tell stupid industry stories. So perhaps jaded, sarcastic people should not be allowed to pollute the minds of young people. Or maybe I should just stop reading Dilbert.


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