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The death and return of Conner McCloud

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Conner McCloud

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Life is certainly strange. Some fourteen months ago, I was graduating from a respected university with two sought after degrees. Today, I am posting from a library [twelve minutes left on this session, I had better hurry], preparing for my next shift at a local Dairy Queen.

And I honestly do not remember when I was last happier.

It isn't so much that I enjoy being an assistant manager at Dairy Queen. Although, I do. Very much so. It is more that I have a vision again. A new goal for my life after the last faded years ago to the turmoil of earning those two degrees.

But I am getting ahead of myself, and I am down to eight and a half minutes. No time for dillies, and less time for dallies.

As I said, some fourteen months ago I graduated. I immediately began searching for employment, both with software firms [my first degree being in Computer Science], and with engineering firms [my second degree being in Electical Engineering]. I found employment difficult to find. As the months wore on, I realized the reason employers did not find me attractive was that I myself had little to no desire to work in either field. I love developing software, and I love developing hardware, and I especially love the magical realm where the two disciplines meet. But I simply could not envision myself doing it for a living. They are a hobby to me. A hobby I love, and will always love, but a hobby none the less. Not a career.

But what else could I do? I have, after all, nearly killed myself getting through college, not to mention putting myself rather seriously in debt, all to enter the very fields I was not discarding. I was distraught. It was not a happy couple of weeks as I searched my soul for some sign of what I should do.

Fortune and I have a very healthy relationship, and in this case it did not let me down. At the very same time I was was going through this dilemma, my brother was having trouble with Algebra, and attending study sessions with his teacher and a bunch of other students over the summer. As I was currently unemployed, I volunteered to help out in my spare time. The experience was, for lack of a better word, breathtaking. I felt satisfaction watching those kids grasp math that I never felt writing programs or building robots. It was a satisfaction that I have only felt in passing here on Gamedev, pretending I know enough about programming to help others in the General Programming forum.

It became immediately clear what I am meant to do. Teach. I've heard the jokes from my peers; those who can't, and so forth. I don't really care. This is what will make me happy, I am more certain of that then anything I've ever felt before.

And so I am returning to school. Apparently, to teach high school math requires actual coursework. Not much, of course, since I already have a degree in math. Just a handful of courses in education. And some reading and writing bull shit that the School of Mines never saw fit to officially teach me. I figure I could knock it out in a year, maybe three semesters, if I felt so inclined. But I've done the full time student thing, and I think I want to take a break from it. What's the hurry? I have my entire life ahead of me, and now that I have a goal I can enjoy myself for a while.

And yes, make ice cream for ten dollars an hour. Sure, its not the $40k a year job I was told to look forward to when I left highschool, but it is honest work, I get experience with Teenagers, and five nights a week I get a free meal. Really, what more could a guy want?

And so there you all have it. The quick and dirty summary of where Conner McCloud is. I am sure you have all been dying for an update on my amazing life, and I am more than happy to oblige. And for those of you living in the greater Denver area, feel free to swing by my store. I promise I'll give the brasier guy a stern talking to should he spit in your meal.
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Best of luck to you! I know how hard it is to be a high school maths teacher (breifly tried it myself a few years back, realised it wasn't for me). Hope it all works out!

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Kudos to you, it's a position that a lot of people end up in, but at least you realise that you want something else as a career.

My sister got a degree in Exercise Science, got a job at a heart clinic and hated it, and has just finished a degree in Secondary Education. She's now a Physical Education teacher at a local high-school, and absolutely loves her job (the holidays are awesome).

I'm in a similar situation now, having just finished a PhD in Computer Science. I feel obliged to work using my skills, but I have very little motivation for doing so. People often laugh when I express my desire to quit computing to build furniture. But the satisfaction I get from building something is more than I've ever felt doing computing (although finishing the PhD was pretty sweet).

So hobbyist development it is for me. The lack of stress, and being able to work on the projects that I want, not what someone else wants, is very appealing.

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As a junior in high school looking to go to a nice college for a major in Computer Science, this worries me and makes me think maybe I should analyze my choice more closely! But it looks like you have a happy ending and I'm glad to hear it. Keep us all informed on your projects and your teaching. [smile]

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Best of luck with your chosen path. My school experience was nothing short of miserable, largely because I saw through the incompetence and false enthusiasm of most of the teachers out there. The few bright spots on my school history are due to the few teachers who were good at what they tought, passionate about doing it, and interested in helping others to develop similar skills and passion.

Yeah, "them as can't do," and all that - but secretly, we all have at least one teacher who really could, and I suspect that we all owe some part of our success in life to those people.


Wait a second, I think my cynical-bastard-shell is cracking. I'm going to have to go and get that patched...

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Original post by Frequency
As a junior in high school looking to go to a nice college for a major in Computer Science, this worries me and makes me think maybe I should analyze my choice more closely! But it looks like you have a happy ending and I'm glad to hear it. Keep us all informed on your projects and your teaching. [smile]

Don't let my story get in the way of your own dreams. Computer Science, as a career, wasn't for me. But look at the countless people on this very site who found Computer Science was for them. If right now, you feel that that is the direction your life is taking you, by all means follow through. Even if, heaven forbid, you end up in a situation similar to my own in five or six years, you'll still have gotten a lot out of the college experience. I certainly don't regret the five years I spent at the School of Mines, even if I'll only make use of a fraction of what I studied.

As a quick aside [and I hope to have more information once my computer works again], my current project is a port of the STL to .NET. Its been immensely fun, trying to coax generics into pretending they're templates. It is, of course, a complete waste of time. Some primitive benchmarks suggest Vector.Net is considerably slower than Collections.Generic.List, for instance, and Map.Net's implementation would likely make somebody more experienced in writing containers cry. But as a proof of concept, it has been rather entertaining. And honestly, I'm rather proud of my iterator setup. Iterators are what inspired the project initially, so the fact that I have them working is rather pleasing.

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Original post by ApochPiQ
Yeah, "them as can't do," and all that - but secretly, we all have at least one teacher who really could, and I suspect that we all owe some part of our success in life to those people.

I must admit, that the professors I had that were truly gifted have been a great inspiration to me. Taking their courses changed me, both as a student and as a person. If I can capture a fraction of that for my own students, then I'll consider myself a lucky man.

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a tear is brought to my eye. I think this is the most honorable path a person might take. Do your bit to correct the rapant problem of miseducation that exists in this world. Teach them well.

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