In March I have started Art of Programming training center. Now I have closed it. Sorry guys for giving up so early. I want to share some of my views on why I started and why I closed, and what I learned.
Why I started?
I have a guy in my office who finished Engineering in CSE and does not even know what a bit and byte was. It was shocking to me to know that people at such state can exist. And it happened that I found many many people in that state. A month before I started the Art of Programming, I have tried an different approach for training him in the office. It was actually simple one, just make him ask questions from every thing he does not know, try to force him to think that programming is all about logic, and what we normally do in real world we just have to do in code.
His state actually made me think that there can not be any one lower than that guy. I mean how can there be any one who can finish CSE Engineering and still don’t know anything? So I thought if I can make him do programming, may be I can make any one do programming. In less than a month I was able to make him write programs and now even trying to make him take the responsibility of a complete product.
His progress made me believe that I possess a magic formula to train anyone to be a programmer. That started the idea of Art of Programming.
Why I closed?
I took too big office. I was too ambitious. Thought I will get 100’s of students as we ourself tried to hire and more than 400 people have written our tests. As many of them are in same state as the guy I mentioned above, I thought all of them will join. We thought we will not have enough capacity to serve the need. I know it sounds silly and stupid. But it was too late before I have realized the mistake.
Hardly 10 people joined. In that total paid students are 5 people. I was traveling 18km every day up and down and spending more than 400rs per day in just the travel. I was starting at 7:30 AM and after finishing at the training I was spending up to 8PM in office.
It was late to realize that it is not my magic formula that made that guy improve in the programming. It was not my skill. I have struggled every day with some students and almost made every one cry at least once.
Even those people who paid me are not rich or even middle class. Every one of them struggled to pay me that fee. They are really in need of the job, and somehow managed to find that fee to pay me. They really hoped that I could alter their life path.
Only after starting it, I realized how much burden it is to take that kind of responsibility. Every day and every hour it is like sitting on a needle. You can not punish the students for not thinking, shouting does not work, it is too much to expect them to do in some cases.
I have realized that I may not be able to help those students anymore, and does not want to create any false hopes in them. Also it may never be a business success if I run it in the way I was running. I have lost more than 5lakhs due to this program, and don’t want to loose anymore. So I have closed it.
What did I learn?
- 20 years of bad education can not be fixed with in 3 months.
- Do things in incremental way, at least when doing with own money.
- Usual lesson: What ever can do wrong, will go wrong.
- Students are lacking clarity of thought. That one guy was able to learn because he accepted that he don’t know anything and he was able to ask questions on what he does not know. Problem with most other students is that they don’t know what they know and don’t know. They are always in doubt.
- I jumped in to the idea because it is what I always wanted to do. Made difference to people’s lives. I only thought about what a great thing it is to do. But did not realize how much it will pain when you can not help some one who is having great expectations on you.
- It is very very very difficult to change the thought process of a person. (Only by luck it may happen, at least for me)
- Not every one is capable of becoming a programmer. (Used to believe this before, but my false magic formula made me think otherwise)
Also it was so liberating for my mind to give up. I really enjoyed the mental peace after I made the decision. I was tired of thinking of those students whom I was not able to help. It is not my responsibility now. Let their future be decided by their own actions or some kind of luck. I have really failed in this idea. So next time when I say I am going to change people, please remind me.
So what next?
It is just one of many ideas I got and tried to implement. I will still get many more ideas and plans. Only that this experiment taught me some good lessons. I hope I don’t forget them in future.
So may be it is okey to give up some times.