Evan Cole


What if best practice was common practice?

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You may have heard this before:

Now try this on for size:

Wait. How could you have a hammer if everything is a nail? And wouldn’t you be a nail too‽

Many years ago this question captured me:

I got stuck at “discipline”. It’s not so hard to define existing disciplines, but how do you know when you’re looking at a new one? or at a hidden discipline?

“Discipline” started to make sense when instead of looking for a single thing, I saw combinations of these two things:

I now think of disciplines as conventional combinations. Disciplines have a conventional type of question, and conventional methods for answering them.

So what does it mean to be an expert in a discipline? I think it means you’ve developed the intuition to ask certain questions and are very good at certain methods for finding their answers. no more, no less.

Where do unexpected questions come from? And how can you find an answer to a question no one understands yet?

Conventional disciplines may have constrained themselves to asking questions for which they already now how to search answers.

But what if you reject known constraints and set new ones? You’d have to ask unknown questions and find unexpected ways to answer them.

Try replacing “question” with “problem”, and “answer” with “solution”:

Listening and empathy are the keys to finding problems you couldn’t know exist. Collaborative design is the way to find answers you never expected were possible.

Here’s the question I’ve spent a few years trying to answer:

Rephrased as a problem:

Hold on. What does it even mean to teach programming? Maybe it means first teaching students to ask questions that can be answered with code.

I certainly haven’t found the answer yet, but I do have lots of ideas. Let’s compare notes.

Got a question we can ask together?

I’m listening