[TOS] How to become a POSSE instructor

Matthew Jadud mjadud at allegheny.edu
Mon Mar 1 12:47:17 UTC 2010

2010/3/1 Karsten Wade <kwade at redhat.com>:
> * Is there maybe more impact when e.g. a high schooler is teaching a
>  POSSE than a professor?

A high school student cannot speak to:

1. Tenure and promotion
2. Evaluation and publication
3. Transformation of the department around an open agenda
4. Transformation of institutional policy to support an open agenda

You are trying to transform a culture that is approximately 1000 years
old. Institutions of higher education are incredibly resistant to
change. Should I come back to my department and my Dean and suggest
that we transform our curriculum because a high school student says we

I'm sorry that this rankles you, but you must consider the context
your POSSE participants work in.

> * Is it the open source way to require to be taught by someone of an
>  equivalent or higher education level?

No, but this isn't about creating new hackers. This is about
establishing a community for professionals who will become agents for
change in their home institutions. Further, you want them to go on to
help you create additional agents for change. You need faculty to help
you transform CS departments. Even if the faculty respect your high
school POSSE instructor (because they have deep insights beyond their
years that allow them to relate to six years of grad school politics,
the academic job search, the publication paper chase, and tenure and
promotion), it isn't clear to me that their institution will.

> * Is it a good lesson that the key to entry in to open source for
>  professors requires at least one other professor?

I don't know that it is key, but I can make arguments that it makes
sense culturally in the context of systemic change. You have to speak
to me on that level before I'm going to believe otherwise.

> * What happens when a now essential co-teacher arrives on the first
>  day with a wildly different set of expectations than are required
>  for actually teaching the course?  How is this different from when
>  that happens with a student?

It isn't different, but we assume that the professional educator will
take it upon themselves to prepare for the instruction---something
that we do every semester (in designing new instruction) and many
times a week (in preparing for individual classes and laboratories).
You're asking me if I can re-create an instructional context that
lasts three days, which I have already gone through? Can you write
"Hello, World" in Python?

Because the instructors are collaborating on their instruction, you'll
have two minds working on curricular design and evolution, which will
have a stabilizing factor.

In the end, this seems like a non-point to me. "What if one of our
past POSSE participants shows up and doesn't do their job?" Perhaps
I'm reading that incorrectly, though.

> Other than "professors teaching professors is interesting", what are
> reasons for this requirement?

Professors teaching professors isn't interesting, it's your bridge
into the culture.


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