My Apprenticeship - Thursday, August 12, 2004

This summer I'm revisiting my short apprenticeship at Object Mentor. I'll be posting commentary on all my posts from the summer of 2004 exactly 5 years later to the day.

Thursday 8-12-04

My Birthday today and the guys at OM were kind enough to buy me some pizza. Later on tonight I'm going to have a quiet little get-together at my favorite restaurant: Club Lucky.

Tomorrow is my last day at Object Mentor's Gurnee location. Saturday I'll be heading up to Canada and XPAU. Paul (the other OM apprentice) and I will be sharing a room at the Hyatt Regency. But here's the fun part: The last day of XPAU is Wednesday and my job as high school physics teacher starts back up on Thursday. So I'll be catching an 8:30pm flight from Calgary on Wednesday that arrives in Chicago (via Las Vegas) at 5am Thursday morning. Then it's a cab ride to work and meetings that start at 7:30am. Let's hope some sleep happens on the plane.

I'm pretty excited about XPAU, although I don't know what I'll be doing exactly. Basically Paul and I are Micah's goon squad and any person or technology that gets in his way will be dealt with shortly. However, Lance mentioned that he might also need some help with a project or two he's working on so I'll probably be pretty busy. In between duties for OM I'll be attending as many non-tutorials as possible. And trying to network (shudder).

My good friend Ken Hlebek (we went to high school together, fer cryin' out loud) will be attending and presenting. Something called 'Being Extreme with Eclipse.' Ken is the guy who was kind enough to introduce me to Object Mentor and, since he lives in Oakland, CA., I don't get to see him that often. Even when he does manage to get back to the Chicago area, he's inundated by visits from and to family (big, big, big family) so I still don't see him. Should be fun to catch up.

Weird how this all started: I get frustrated with teaching so I call an old high school friend and he puts me in contact with a guy he's met once or twice. How this all leads to a new career seems improbably at best. But it does prove a point I've been trying to make about private schools forever: You're not paying for a better education, you're paying for the friends and connections your kid will make at the pricey school. Most people are shocked to learn that private school teachers make much less than their public school counterparts. Even at high schools that cost 30K per year. Almost all of them leave as soon as they can for a public school. So why doesn't that experience and talent turn a private school into a terrible place? Well, 2 big reasons: First, people who spend 30K per year on education are generally smart, have raised their kids to value education, and care about what happens in the school they are paying so much for. And second, if you go to school with the children of such parents you will have connections to important people for the rest of your life and they will pressure you to do better in school. As a teacher, I've seen the same kid do well in a class of students who cared about school and then do terrible in a class that was indifferent. We all want to believe that we're beautiful snowflakes of individuality but the truth is that the people around you influence your progress way more than we'd like to believe. I had a friend whom I could call to help me out and that's how this all started. Now it's true that I still had to do the work when I got the opportunity but without that opportunity I would have probably had to face years of night classes to get a degree in CS. And faced with that colossal amount of work with no certain outcome there's a pretty good chance I would have just started showing more movies and phoning it in as a teacher.

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