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Dear Student

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Dear student, attending class is optional but important to your success in my courses and your grades. Please find below a small subset of best practices very usable for decreasing the chances of defeat. Sincerely, your teacher Wouter.

Please do not sleep in class. It is not only very disrespectful to the person in front doing his best to transfer knowledge, but it also negates any chance of you successfully finishing the exercises. Yes, they are optional—as is attending in the first place. Yes, pointers of pointers can cause the eyelids to become heavy at times. We both have to push through. Oh, and if the class consists of merely ten students, sleeping attracts a lot of attention. I might promptly come up with an exam question during your nap.

Please do not talk after being asked for silence. While you might not be even remotely interested in the effect of a stack overflow, other students might, but they can’t hear me because of you. You’re not in high school anymore and won’t score coolness points for talking during lessons. I do not ask for silence to exercise my power as a teacher. I ask for silence so that other students in the back can follow along, if they decide to do so.

Please adhere to the COVID-19 rules set out by the university. I dislike wearing a mask just as much as you do. I know these rules can cause ridiculous effects such as a classroom next to ours being full of students without masks because that’s a college course and you’re in a university course, and we happen to share buildings. The rules are not to make your life miserable, but to make your fellow students' life less miserable.

Please join us in time. A stream of students dripping in class after it is in session distracts not only me as a teacher, but also the other students, which means reiterations of what was previously said are in order, which means less time for me to answer your questions during the exercises. That said…

Please do ask questions. The sole purpose of my presence is for me to help you on your journey from novice to expert in all things programming. Complaining to the one on your right that it’s hard won’t make it easier. Instead, just attract my attention and we’ll work it out together. I promise you it won’t be as hard as you initially thought. That said…

Please learn to think for yourself. Asking everything without first giving it a bit of thought will result in collecting the answers without understanding what the answers are about. You’re enrolled in a university program with just one purpose: to learn to think. Forget the pointers, how would you process new information if this course was not here and I was not here to guide you? That said…

Please don’t (immediately) download solutions from Stack Overflow. Getting your program to compile and output the required text is only 20% of the exercise. The other 80% is fully grasping what every single piece of code actually does. By copying someone else’s code, you’ve successfully earned a score of 20 out of 100. Congrats! Now how about that other eighty percent?

Please encourage others to learn as well. Learning never happens in isolation, and a teacher can only get things started—if that. You’ll find yourself to be more motivated if you learn together. More motivation usually equals higher scores. When I say “feel free to work out things in group”, I try to encourage you to learn from peers in case you dislike my own methods. It’s always good to have a friend be the backup teacher.

I'm Wouter Groeneveld, a Brain Baker, and I love the smell of freshly baked thoughts (and bread) in the morning. I sometimes convince others to bake their brain (and bread) too.

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