Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Universities: Passing the Torch of Culture

«In this post I expose some thoughts about italian universities and italian politics. I hope to be not offensive, it's not my intention. I hope to stimulate a constructive dialog, giving my personal ideas and experiences as "experimental datas"»
Who wants to sit on my chair tomorrow?

In these days italian students are protesting against a new law for university. Googling a bit you can find some commentaries to the law (they're more understandable than law's text), wich can help you to get the more important features:

  1. universities could become foundations
  2. professors will give resignation when they'll become 70
  3. new professors will be recruit by a commission of 4 randomly choosen professors
  4. small universities will be encouraged to fuse themselfs

It doesn't sounds bad. But there are several "cut offs" in universities budgets, explicable only with a decision to reduce public financing. The "fight against barons" (this is a nickname used for more influents professors whom manage recruitings, balance, ecc.) will not be resolved in this way.
I appreciate these contestations, because they prove youths' interest about public life and public instruction. But these protests should be oriented to two more important points, instead to defend just the "status quo".

  1. Professors can be disheartened by University's Senate and could be fired
  2. New professors can be admited to a recruiting contest only if they are international figures (such as Andrew Tanenbaum, Dario Fo, Carlo Rubbia, ecc.) or they have a successfull 10-year curriculum in a company

Bruce Sterling wrote on its «The hacker crackdown» what he thinks what is universities' mission. Have you ever tried to think about it? What's the universities' mission? Sterling says it's «passing the torch of culture». It's true, but not complete. Universities must

  1. Prepare future managers
  2. Prepare future high technical staff
  3. Passing the torch of culture to future generations

In our universities, computer-science program isn't very updated: a new bachelor in CS, usally knows just Java and C/C++/PHP; knows just a bit about UNIX, doesn't know exactly what's a TCP/IP port; has difficulties to understand the differences between a process and a thread; he doesn't know how works ANT, Make and other usefull tools; he doesn't know anything about real-time systems and programming; he doesn't know anything about NO-SQL databases, sometimes neither they exist

This is unacceptable, because it's like an eletronic engeneer whom ignore microprocessors. This new bachelors have also difficulties to learn new languages and techniques.
There's many things to change in italian universities.
I hope this protest will not stop when money will return.
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