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Hogwarts is a Terrible Learning Environment: Discuss

Hogwarts is a Terrible Learning Environment: Discuss

Like many young Muggles of the early 00's, I dreamed of receiving my Hogwarts letter. But re-reading the series with an eye toward learning lessons about creating a positive learning environment, it's clear that Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry contains some unfortunate lessons in what NOT to do. When it comes to crafting an environment that encourages asking questions, fosters cooperation, and ensuring the success of its developers -- I mean, wizards -- we can learn a lot from the mistakes of the Hogwarts faculty. In this magical talk, you'll learn how to be a better mentor and help your workplace become a place where your junior developers can flourish.

Given at Open Source Bridge, June 2016.

Lacey Williams Henschel

June 23, 2016

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  2. None
  3. None
  4. ✢ FOREWORD ✢

  5. For those select few who possess the predisposition, I can

    teach you how to bewitch the mind and ensnare the senses. “
  6. And finally, I must tell you that this year, the

    talk on the third day is out of bounds to anyone who does not wish to experience a very painful spoiler. “

  8. Photo by Bruce Guenter, CC BY 2.0

  9. None

  11. Photo by The Noun Project, CC BY 3.0

  12. Also, Hogwarts is not diverse. And that’s a big problem.

    It’s got more problems than we have time to talk about today.
  13. Racism, sexism, ableism and lack of representation all contribute to

    a toxic learning environment.

  15. None
  16. You might belong in Gryffindor, Where dwell the brave at

    heart, Their daring, nerve, and chivalry Set Gryffindors apart
  17. You might belong in Hufflepuff, Where they are just and

    loyal, Those patient Hufflepuffs are true And unafraid of toil
  18. Or yet in wise old Ravenclaw, if you've a ready

    mind, Where those of wit and learning, Will always find their kind
  19. Or perhaps in Slytherin You'll make your real friends, Those

    cunning folks use any means To achieve their ends
  20. You know, sometimes I think we Sort too soon. Professor

    Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
  21. Photo by Fine Decals on Etsy

  22. “You are detail-oriented, so we’ve got you in QA.”

  23. “I’m also good at puzzles! And I like knitting! And

    I love talking to people!”
  24. not relevant.

  25. None
  26. Hufflepuffs are stupid wizards!

  27. Hufflepuffs are stupid wizards! PHP developers programmers

  28. Harry Potter can talk to snakes. Voldemort could talk to

    snakes. Voldemort was evil. Ergo, Harry Potter is evil.

  30. None
  31. None
  32. None
  33. “Highly rated servers are given more tables and preferred schedules.

    By shifting work to its best servers, the restaurant hopes to increase profits and motivate all employees.” Netessine and Yakubovich, Harvard Business Review
  34. “We call these firms ‘winners take all’ organizations.” Netessine and

    Yakubovich, Harvard Business Review
  35. “[This system] engendered anxiety and excessive competition, and the company

    had to adjust its system as a result.” Netessine and Yakubovich, Harvard Business Review
  36. Segran, Fast Company

  37. “When teams are forced to go head-to- head with one

    another, women’s creative output goes down. In fact, the more intense the competition, the weaker women perform.” Segran, Fast Company
  38. Bowles, Babcock, and Lai, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes

  39. “[M]ale evaluators penalized female candidates more than male candidates for

    initiating salary negotiations” Bowles, Babcock, and Lai, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
  40. What happens at the hypercompetitive wizard tournament?

  41. A young student is forced to compete against his will.

  42. No one notices that a new professor is a Death

    Eater in disguise.
  43. Competitors cheat and sabotage one another.

  44. Someone dies.

  45. Anything like this ever happened to you?


  47. Illustration by Seth Cooper, Harry Potter Wiki Professor Binns History

    of Magic
  48. Professor Binns can’t remember anyone’s name, won’t update his lesson

    plans, and doesn’t care that his students are not remotely engaged.
  49. Professor Trelawney fakes her talent, traumatizes students to make herself

    look better, and sets students up to fail.
  50. Professor Moody is literally a Death Eater. He also physically

    and psychologically abuses students.
  51. (I know he wasn’t REALLY a Death Eater. But the

    fake Moody got away with that crap for a long time because of the reputation of the real Moody.)
  52. “Besides the direct harm, dysfunction, and disrespect this kind of

    rule-breaking and rudeness causes, when you allow people to get away with it, you’re sending a message that they can get away with outright harassment and assault too.” Aurora, Gardiner, and Honeywell, “No more rock stars: how to stop abuse in tech communities"
  53. This is why you need a Code of Conduct, even/especially

    at work.
  54. None
  55. Wolff, College Humor

  56. Professor McGonagall ignores student complaints, doesn’t ask questions, and think

    she always knows best.
  57. None

  59. “Coaches need to be 100% focused on their learners and

    always be there when needed. Make sure their experience is positive and that they have fun.” Django Girls Coaching Manual
  60. Be Flexible and Accessible

  61. “Get out, get out, I don’t want to see you

    in this office ever again!” Professor Snape, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
  62. No Jargon

  63. “What would I get if I added powdered root of

    asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?” Professor Snape, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
  64. Don’t say “It’s easy”

  65. “Longbottom, kindly do not reveal that you can't even perform

    a simple Switching Spell in front of anyone from Durmstrang!” Professor McGonagall, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  66. No “Well, actually’s”

  67. None
  68. No subtle “-ism’s”

  69. “I’d expect first years to be able to deal with

    Red Caps and grindylows.” Professor Snape, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  70. Teach that coding is fun!

  71. “Wands away, quills out. There will be no need to

    talk.” Professor Umbridge, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  72. Excitement is good, but stress is bad for coding. Pay

    attention to the atmosphere.
  73. None

  75. None
  76. Professor Quirrell went on vacation and met Lord Voldemort.

  77. He brought him back into Hogwarts.

  78. No one noticed for an entire school year.

  79. At least, not in time to do anything about it.

  80. None
  81. Professor Umbridge discriminates against house-elves, centaurs, giants, Hagrid (who is

    half giant), and students with muggle backgrounds.
  82. “Far from testing knowledge or competence, Umbridge’s examinations of both

    students and teachers are exercises of pure terrorizing control, intimidating and humiliating.” Wolosky, Children’s Literature in Education
  83. None
  84. Snape was in love with this girl. She didn’t love

    him back.
  85. He hated her boyfriend (who was in fact a jerk).

    He called her a racist name. They weren’t friends anymore.
  86. He became a terrorist.

  87. She died. He joined the resistance.

  88. He abused that woman’s son and his friends because… he

    hated the dad.
  89. He gets away with it because he’s one of the

    good guys? But then he pretends to be a bad guy? But he’s really good? I guess?

  91. Dumbledore’s Army is a student-led, student-taught, student-owned group where everyone

    learns at their own pace. Image Source
  92. “Harry and his friends create their own classroom as public

    sphere, through which they circumvent censorship, circulate materials, pass messages and ultimately, in the last book, organize an active underground revolt.” Wolosky, Children’s Literature in Education
  93. When reaching out to their teachers fails, students turn to

    each other when they’re in need.
  94. When their teachers will not teach them, they teach each

  95. When they haven’t been meeting for a long time, but

    someone reaches out, many of them respond.
  96. ✢ CONCLUSION ✢

  97. Be inclusive.

  98. Avoid the pigeonhole. owl

  99. Teams don’t have to compete. They can support each other.

  100. Recruit good teachers.

  101. Read the Recurse Center User’s Manual and the Django Girls

    Coaching Manual. Have an enforced Code of Conduct. Image source
  102. If you don’t do these things, you’ll lose people.

  103. Let your junior developers help each other.

  104. Thank you! Special thanks to Rebecca Kindschi, and the Open

    Source Bridge conference committee @laceynwilliams
  105. Aurora, Valerie, Mary Gardiner, and Leigh Honeywell. “No more rock

    stars: how to stop abuse in tech communities.” hypatia dot ca. Bowles, Hannah Riley, Linda Babcock, Lei Lai. “Social incentives for gender differences in the propensity to initiate negotiations: Sometimes it does hurt to ask.” Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes. Brown, Sarah, Daniel Gray, Jolian McHardy, and Karl Taylor. “Employee trust and workplace performance.” Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization. Conference anti-harassment policy. Geek Feminism Wiki. Contributor Covenant. Django Girls Coaching Manual. Llopis, Glenn. “5 Powerful Things Happen When a Leader Is Transparent.” Forbes. Netessine, Serguei, and Valery Yakubovich. “The Darwinian Workplace.” Harvard Business Review. References
  106. Nikolajeva, Maria. Power, Voice and Subjectivity in Literature for Young

    Readers. Nobel, Carmen. “When business competition harms society.” Harvard Business School Working Knowledge. Recurse Center User’s Manual. Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter novels. Segran, Elizabeth. “Does Workplace Competition Kill Women’s Creativity?” Fast Company. Wolosky, Shira. “Foucault at School: Discipline, Education and Agency in Harry Potter.” Children’s Literature in Education. References