Thurman Speaks About Coaching

I use to be a jock and was a decent basketball and baseball player. I find coaching fun and I have coached youth sports.

My favorite coach is Bob Knight at the University of Indiana. My favorite college team has always been U.C.L.A. When I was a senior in high school, I talked with John Wooden on phone and almost fainted.

A good coach has a style they like to play, but they make adjustments when their current set of players can't play that style. I'm like that when it comes to conducting my courses: I have a game plan and am prepared to implement it, but if things aren't going to plan, then we can switch gears. We can either speed up or down; however, I tend to prefer slower. It is a more efficient investment of time if the material is learned on our first try. When it comes to establishing the fundamentals, quality is more important than quantity.

Learning computing is a building block process. We learn a topic and then build on it. At this time, we are establishing a foundation that needs to support years of future learning. Bobby Knight has good teams because they are fundamentally sound. To be a good computer person, we must master the basics.

Excelling at a sport requires practice, practice, and more practice. The is true in computing. The only way we can learn to be a programmer is to write programs. We practice programming by writing programs.

Coaching is a continuous learning experience (you must learn about your players, opponents, rule changes, changing styles, and so forth). Computing requires us to be continually learning. One thing that makes computing enjoyable is that you can never stop learning. This never ending learning curve is exhausting and time consuming, but it is rewarding in numerous ways (ask me to enumerate these ways and I will).

Participating in sports helps keep you young: both physically and mentally. I think computing is also a great way to keep young (at least mentally -- you have to be careful when it comes to remaining physically fit). I turn 42 this week (28 May 1999) and I feel professionally young given the explosion of the Internet; the revival of Unix; the Open Source revolution; and, seeing AT&T's stock (NYSE: T) become a Wall Street favorite [AT&T is the Company where Unix, C, C++ were invented.]

Oops, I stray. If you say Unix and/or C, then I stray. Speaking of Unix, it has been a pleasure to expose so many students to this operating system. I owe everything I have to my knowledge of Unix (but I am not a Unix GURU). Checkout the homepage for Bell Labs Computing Sciences Research Center at Lucent Technologies (NYSE: LU).

Many of those who invented Unix, C and C++ have created a new operating system called Plan 9.

Speaking of C: great language. Learn C and you have made progress towards learning C++, Java, JavaScript, perl, and so on. My favorite programmer east of the Mississippi is the father of C -- Dennis Ritchie.

Author: G.D.Thurman [gthurman@gmail.com]
Created: May, 1999
Recent Edits: Fixed some grammar errors. Fixed broken hyperlink for John Wooden.