But Can She Type?

One of my favorite Twilight Zone episodes is “But Can She Type?”, in which the protagonist finds herself in a parallel universe where secretaries are treated the way rock stars are in ours. I think about it every time I stub my mind on questions like:

  • Why doesn’t Canada have a Natural Sciences and Engineering Learning Council to funding teaching the way NSERC funds research? Why doesn’t the US have a National Learning Foundation on par with the NSF?

  • I’ve used CTAN (the Comprehensive TeX Archive Network), CPAN (for Perl), CRAN (for R), and PyPI (Python’s equivalent—the letter ‘P’ was already taken). Why isn’t there a Comprehensive Learning Archive Network (CLAN)? I recognize that the Reusability Paradox would make the lessons in CLAN less immediately useful than the libraries in CRAN, but we could still do a lot to make lessons more discoverable.

  • So far as I’ve been able to determine, no computer science department at a major Canadian university has ever had a member of its teaching faculty as chair or head. Why not? On the face of it, isn’t the person who can keep the 10-section intro class running smoothly the best choice for running the department as a whole?

Somewhere out there is a universe in which people have recognized that education is at least as important as innovation. Somewhere out there, communicating and inspiring is considered just as valuable as filling in another square millimeter in the great coloring book we live in. Somewhere out there—but not here.

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