Even boot camps have busy work

I am not going to throw anyone under the bus. What a cliché and totally irrelevant in Austin. No one here rides the bus or the one train. The most I can do here is throw someone under the car driven by someone texting or posting to social media. No matter who is behind the wheel and what those wheels are carrying, I am not throwing anyone under it.

Yes, I got my first lot of busy work from my boot camp, but I’ve given out busy work (I am sure of it) as has everyone who has ever taught or been in charge of curricula.

Busywork is mostly caused by laziness on the side of the teacher or curriculum team, but it’s sometimes caused by lack of time or even the challenge to make an exercise to practice a new skill relevant. It’s not always easy to do and instructors have to both teach the skill, make sure most of the students have a working grasp before they’re set off to be assessed. Sometimes teachers come up with a great way to enforce the new skill or show where it’s used. Other times the ideas just do not come, and they don’t get to pause time to let the ideas come. That is teaching life.

I remember coming up with the best ideas ever. So much ever that I should write everrrrrrr. Other times, I just was stuck. They need to practice this, but I am just forcing some silly situation where this new skill would be used.

I just had my first busywork homework assignment. I didn’t have time to do the more challenging “rock, paper, scissors” game. That is another blog post about defensive driving online classes interfering with coding, but LET US NOT GO THERE, PEOPLE! After trying the RPS game and writing the pseudocode, I realized that I could not complete that to my liking. (Do not speed, people. The consequences pop up everywhere.) I switched to the train scheduler, and immediately regretted it.

The idea behind the train scheduler is to practice using Firebase and also MomentJS. Perhaps the two should not have been combined. Just practice with a little in-class work for MomentJS and then come up with your own way to use it however. Let the Firebase practice be however the student wants to make it. As it is, I am turning in the most unrealistic project ever. No one who has used a departure board would believe this. We are required to use Military time (not 24-hour time, but Military). I’ve lived in cities with a thriving public transportation system in the US and overseas. None uses military time. All in the US have used 12-hour time with am/pm. I offered a screenshot of Penn Station’s departure board. The old one and the screens that replaced it use the 12-hour system (Old and new Penn Station Departure Boards). The stations I used in Europe and in Australia use the 24-hour time with colons. Military time does not use colons. So there’s that.

Another thing that bothered me was that the basic assignment was to use input forms. Who would do this? No one would build a program that would have people type in names such as Waxahachie, Poughkeepsie, or Chattanooga. Destination stations would be set and either typeahead or a drop-down would be available. Typeahead I got to work but struggled with capturing the value when I had only Pen written and wanted Pensacola. That’s ok. I am cool with that challenge, but not in a short time. So I started to disconnect. I could not stand making a train scheduler so unrealistic. The other issue I had was writing down the train line names. They’d also already be in. Three disconnects (time, destination, line names).

I did enjoy the challenge of using MomentJS, which is not intuitive to me. Not yet. In struggling with the will to do the homework at all and the desire to learn Firebase and MomentJS, I thought that the better idea would have been to admit that both skills are better learned practicing à la worksheet. Forcing them together in a short assignment was just that — forced.

I have not permanently set it aside. I’d like to return to it either after the boot camp has finished or over the winter break to deal with typeahead or a dropdown and then edit. I do not think that the average station master would be adding these lines. They’d have been added months ago. Lines do not change that often. If anything, I’d like to know how to edit the arrival time without changing the original. I’d also rather deal with the styling to warn people when there are less than 5 minutes before the next train. I’d also take out the Boo’strap. I use it to practice it, but, to me, Bootstrap is for those who don’t like to style. I lerve it.

So yeah. It was busy work and totally unrealistic, and I put the effort I saw my own students do when I did that to them. Empathy goes a long way. I get that students will get bored or disconnected, but educators also get stuck for ideas.

Now, about that online defensive driving course …


(This was today’s 750words challenge. today’s stats)

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