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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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  1. HOGWARTS IS A
    TERRIBLE LEARNING
    ENVIRONMENT: DISCUSS
    Lacey Williams Henschel
    @laceynwilliams

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  2. ✢ FOREWORD ✢

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  3. For those select few who
    possess the predisposition, I
    can teach you how to
    bewitch the mind and
    ensnare the senses.

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  4. 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.

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  5. ✢ INTRODUCTION ✢

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  6. Photo by Bruce Guenter, CC BY 2.0

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  7. ✢ CHAPTER ONE ✢
    WITCHES V. WIZARDS

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  8. Photo by The Noun Project, CC BY 3.0

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  9. Also, Hogwarts is not diverse. And that’s
    a big problem.
    It’s got more problems than we have
    time to talk about today.

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  10. Racism, sexism, ableism and lack of
    representation all contribute to a toxic
    learning environment.

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  11. ✢ CHAPTER TWO ✢
    THE SORTING HAT

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  12. You might belong in Gryffindor,
    Where dwell the brave at heart,
    Their daring, nerve, and chivalry
    Set Gryffindors apart

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  13. You might belong in Hufflepuff,
    Where they are just and loyal,
    Those patient Hufflepuffs are true
    And unafraid of toil

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  14. Or yet in wise old Ravenclaw,
    if you've a ready mind,
    Where those of wit and learning,
    Will always find their kind

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  15. Or perhaps in Slytherin
    You'll make your real friends,
    Those cunning folks use any means
    To achieve their ends

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  16. You know,
    sometimes I
    think we Sort
    too soon.
    Professor Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

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  17. Photo by Fine Decals on Etsy

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

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  19. “I’m also good at puzzles! And I like
    knitting! And I love talking to people!”

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  20. not relevant.

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  21. Hufflepuffs are stupid wizards!

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  22. Hufflepuffs are stupid wizards!
    PHP developers programmers

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  23. Harry Potter can talk to snakes.
    Voldemort could talk to snakes.
    Voldemort was evil.
    Ergo, Harry Potter is evil.

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  24. ✢ CHAPTER THREE ✢
    THE TRIWIZARD
    TOURNAMENT

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  25. “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

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  26. “We call these firms ‘winners take all’
    organizations.”
    Netessine and Yakubovich, Harvard Business Review

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  27. “[This system] engendered anxiety and
    excessive competition, and the company
    had to adjust its system as a result.”
    Netessine and Yakubovich, Harvard Business Review

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  28. Segran, Fast Company

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  29. “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

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  30. Bowles, Babcock, and Lai, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes

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  31. “[M]ale evaluators penalized female
    candidates more than male candidates
    for initiating salary negotiations”
    Bowles, Babcock, and Lai, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes

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  32. What happens at the hypercompetitive
    wizard tournament?

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

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  34. No one notices that a new professor is a
    Death Eater in disguise.

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  35. Competitors cheat and sabotage one
    another.

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  36. Someone dies.

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  37. Anything like this ever happened to you?

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  38. ✢ CHAPTER FOUR ✢
    THE FACULTY REVIEW

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  39. Illustration by Seth Cooper, Harry Potter Wiki
    Professor Binns
    History of Magic

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  40. 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.

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  41. Professor Trelawney
    fakes her talent,
    traumatizes students
    to make herself look
    better, and sets
    students up to fail.

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  42. Professor Moody is
    literally a Death
    Eater. He also
    physically and
    psychologically
    abuses students.

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  43. (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.)

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  44. “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"

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  45. This is why you need a Code of Conduct,
    even/especially at work.

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  46. Wolff, College Humor

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  47. Professor
    McGonagall ignores
    student complaints,
    doesn’t ask questions,
    and think she always
    knows best.

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  48. ✢ CHAPTER FIVE ✢
    THE MANUAL

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  49. “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

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  50. Be Flexible and Accessible

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  51. “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

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  52. “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

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  53. Don’t say “It’s easy”

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  54. “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

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  55. No “Well, actually’s”

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  56. No subtle “-ism’s”

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  57. “I’d expect first
    years to be able to
    deal with Red Caps
    and grindylows.”
    Professor Snape, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

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  58. Teach that coding is fun!

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  59. “Wands away,
    quills out.
    There will be no
    need to talk.”
    Professor Umbridge, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

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  60. Excitement is good, but stress is bad for
    coding. Pay attention to the atmosphere.

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  61. ✢ CHAPTER SIX ✢
    THE REALLY SCARY STUFF

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  62. Professor Quirrell went on vacation and
    met Lord Voldemort.

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  63. He brought him back into Hogwarts.

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  64. No one noticed for an entire school year.

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

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  66. Professor Umbridge discriminates
    against house-elves, centaurs, giants,
    Hagrid (who is half giant), and students
    with muggle backgrounds.

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  67. “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

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  68. Snape was in love with this girl. She
    didn’t love him back.

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  69. He hated her boyfriend (who was in fact a
    jerk). He called her a racist name. They
    weren’t friends anymore.

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  70. He became a terrorist.

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  71. She died. He joined the resistance.

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  72. He abused that woman’s son and his
    friends because… he hated the dad.

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  73. 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?

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  74. ✢ CHAPTER SEVEN ✢
    THE SAFE SPACES

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  75. Dumbledore’s Army
    is a student-led,
    student-taught,
    student-owned group
    where everyone learns
    at their own pace.
    Image Source

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  76. “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

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  77. When reaching out to their teachers fails,
    students turn to each other when they’re
    in need.

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  78. When their teachers will not teach them,
    they teach each other.

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  79. When they haven’t been meeting for a
    long time, but someone reaches out,
    many of them respond.

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  80. ✢ CONCLUSION ✢

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  81. Be inclusive.

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  82. Avoid the pigeonhole.
    owl

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

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  84. Recruit good teachers.

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  85. Read the Recurse
    Center User’s
    Manual and the
    Django Girls
    Coaching Manual.
    Have an enforced
    Code of Conduct.
    Image source

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  86. If you don’t do
    these things, you’ll
    lose people.

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  87. Let your junior
    developers help each
    other.

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  88. Thank you!
    Special thanks to Rebecca
    Kindschi, and the Open Source
    Bridge conference committee
    @laceynwilliams

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  89. 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

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  90. 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

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