“I Don’t Know Java”

This semester, me and the rest of Kent’s MAD men are doing three module/courses.

After ~3 years of building and publishing Android apps, I am learning Java from first principles. I feel like a child learning something for the first time, and it feels SO GOOD! Truth is, we can use concepts and ideas every day without ever fully understanding them.

When I taught CAPE Computer Science, each year I had the students build apps using Java. Whenever they asked me for help with their code, my reply would be “I don’t know Java”. There was one student who would claim I was lying. And he had every right to.

A few months before he became a student of mine, Kai’jana and I were at the same code sprint working on Android apps. We sat shoulder-to-shoulder, and he watched me eke out code for an Android app. By “eke out”, I mean using my knowledge of OOPS from C++, the beautiful dot operator, and not-so-random Google searches to cobble piece of code into an app. Of course, the IDE did most of the work in pointing out my errors and suggesting fixes.

Me saying “I don’t know Java” is the same as me saying “I can’t swim”. Truth is I can, but if you’re planning to be 200 feet from shore and drowning, I won’t be swimming out to rescue you! (Unless you’re my wife; in that case I’d give my life to save you.)

When it comes to Java, swimming, and lots of other things, I know my limits and am honest about them. A computer science lecturer who doesn’t know all the answers? Yup, I find this to be the healthy approach. In a world full of “experts” who know any and everything about their field, and are always cock-sure, “I don’t know Java” was me saying to my students “I will always have more to learn…”.

“…and so will you.”