There was a very interesting Ask Slashdot question today. Someone asked the question “What Knowledge Gaps Do Self-Taught Programmers Generally Have?” and it rings true for me as a self-taught programmer.
Fortunately for me, another programmer introduced me to a bevy of good programming books early on. In particular, the Gang of Four’s Design Patterns book and I started putting them into practice. I realized the need to start good habits at the beginning of my programming career.
One commenter, “moore.dustin”, reversed the question “What gaps do schooled programmers have that self-taught programmers don’t?” and a different set of missing skills applies. Schools generally aren’t doing things common to software engineering like source control or a particular development methodology.
Finishing with University isn’t the end of learning. There was always a lot to learn. There are new languages that come into vogue and new technologies. I have always been a fan of Mark Twain’s quote “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” and Benjamin Franklin’s quote “An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.” Education is not about cramming for a test and it is incumbent upon ourselves to take care of our own learning.