Education vs. Experience

I hated university and graduate school. I had a liberal arts education, so I was learning theory. Now, computer science theory is boring to someone who wants to make something useful. I understand why many folks dropped out of college to go work for the internet boom.

However, in the brief 5 years of work experience I’ve had since getting my Master’s, I’ve learned that a self-taught practicum only goes so far. Whether it’s system administration or database administration, the more basic levels of problem solving do not require much insight into how the system (OS or DB) works, the deeper problems do.

Some of that you can learn by doing, but most of the concepts aren’t learnable unless you’re digging into the source code.

That being said, I found a good web page today that goes through Entity-Relationship modeling. It’s very good, comprehensive.

http://www.utexas.edu/its/windows/database/datamodeling/index.html

Perhaps a good workshop idea would be “Data Modeling Using MySQL and the Sakila sample database” — in other words, teaching generic database concepts, translating it into MySQL for folks that already use MySQL.

(As full disclosure, PostgreSQL was the standard teaching database, because at the time MySQL hadn’t been full-featured, as it is now. I’m not quite sure why PostgreSQL isn’t more popular, given that it’s been full-featured for longer. Probably either not enough marketing, or that MySQL is just more intuitive for the self-taught folks…..)

And oh, the irony: “Dictionary.com Word of the Day – autodidact: one who is self-taught.”

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