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The London Python
                       Code Dojo




                   An Education in
                 Developer Education
                       Nicholas Tollervey ntoll@ntoll.org
The London Python Code Dojo is a community organised monthly meeting of Pythonistas.
This non-technical talk explains what we get up to. My aim: to encourage you to organise a
dojo.
About Me:
       • Musician (tuba, piano, organ, theory & composition)
       • Teacher (mainly teenagers but also pre-school to adult)
       • Philosophy of Education (concept of creativity)
       • Writer (O’Reilly book coming soon)
       • Developer (Python for 3 years, .NET before)
       • Currently at Fluidinfo (world changing start-up) :-)
Who the hell is ntoll and why is he interested in code dojos..?
Agenda:

         • What is a Dojo? (Official vs London definition)
         • Why participate in a Dojo? (What’s in it for me?)
         • What is a good Dojo? (Attendee / Organiser)
         • Conclusion: Some personal observations.

I re-wrote some of this talk as a practical response to the “diversity” and “genius” keynotes. A
“dojo” is one way to address the vision/challenges these talks mention.
What is a dojo?
                  (official definition)


Dojo is a martial arts term. It’s a place where you go to practice. I feel uncomfortable about
this but the name has stuck. Perhaps we should call it a “Code-do” or “Py-do”..? (“do” means
place)
Invented here




Started by French dudes in Paris around December 2004
“Acquiring coding skills
    should be a continuous
          process...”
                                                http://codingdojo.org/


Very simple philosophy. Improving existing skills is also important.
Assumption: A good
          developer is always
      learning and re-evaluating
         in order to improve.

I hope we can all agree with this..?
http://www.flickr.com/photos/19884852@N00/318274014/




                  Code Dojo =
                Deliberate Practice
To improve one needs to practice...
These are old ideas...
The unexamined life is not
             worth living.




                                              http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/File:Socrates_Louvre.jpg




                  Socrates (469-399 BCE)
The father of Western philosophy... (2500 years ago) i.e. it’s good to be in a continuous
process of examination and re-examination.
Much learning
      does not teach
      understanding.




                           http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/File:Heraclitus,_Johannes_Moreelse.jpg




           Heraclitus (c.535 - 475 BCE)


The original grumpy old man of ancient Greek philosophy... in other words... don’t just read
the book. Go *do* something... practice!
Parisian Dojo Rules
         start
                                                  2mins: organise next dojo

                                                  30mins: retrospective on last dojo


                                                  10mins: decide the topic for this dojo
      dojo




                                                  40mins: code (either “prepared” or “randori”
                                                  kata)

                                                  10mins: half time break


                                                  40mins: code


         end
                                   (not to scale)
What happens at a dojo? codingdojo.org sets out detailed rules for timing and conduct... The
interesting tasks are the two 40 minute “Kata”.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/renfield/351557228/




                                     Kata..?
Kata is another borrowed martial arts term meaning “forms”. They’re pre-specified /
choreographed steps to be practiced again and again. Improves muscle memory.
Like scales or etude that musicians practice. Graded in difficulty & focus on particular
“aspects”. Practice correctly: reflect aiming for autonomy. Code-dojo kata = code problems.
Prepared Kata




                             http://www.flickr.com/photos/foundphotoslj/466713478/




          •   A presenter shows how to solve the problem using TDD
              and BabySteps™

          •   Each step must make sense to everyone present

          •   Only interrupt if you don’t understand what’s going on
Two mechanisms for doing Kata in a dojo: Prepared and Randori. ^^^ Not a photo from the
dojo... :-)
Randori Kata
                            pilot



                                                               co-pilot
                             happy to volunteer


              •   Public pair programming using TDD

              •   Each pair has a time slot

              •   At the end the pilot returns to the audience, the co-
                  pilot becomes the new pilot and a new co-pilot
                  volunteers from the audience
Randori means “chaos taking” (freestyle). Audience can’t interrupt, only co-pilot (ask
questions, offer advice). Pilot gives a running commentary of thought process. (A dojo
photo!)
What is a dojo?
               (London definition)


Arose from a conversation in a Python pub meet-up. I was explaining music “masterclasses”.
Jonathan Hartley responded with an explanation of the code dojo. We organised a meeting...
We didn’t know what we
        were doing and didn’t
         stick to the rules!


We really did try hard at the start.
Geeks actually socialising!




          Coding fuel


Mistake #1: We started the evening with pizza and beer. This didn’t set the scene for calm
and thoughtful coding.
Code




                                                    Good turnout

About 25 people turned up. We chose to work using a Randori kata. The rule for a time slot
was 10 minutes or a passing unit test for each pair. This worked quite well... (but)
We only had Emacs or Vim available...

                                          vs

                ...and didn’t have a standard keyboard.




        The Twitter based kata sucked (too complex) :-(



                Only 6-7 people got a chance to pilot.
Several more mistakes... Things we should have thought of in advance... :-(
We got it to work!
The task was to display a graph of a user’s followers on Twitter.
Other stuff that wasn’t
supposed to happen...
• Spontaneous applause for working code
       • Audience participation
       • Lots of discussion & debate
       • A generally noisy time

Not at all like the Parisian dojo. Sorry... :-(
(actually, that was good stuff)
In the discussion at the end we thought interaction was a positive aspect of the evening
(photo of Gautier’s dojo beer bottle art). We continued doing Randori based dojo until...
I want to do a
                                             presentation and get your
                                                    feedback...




                 Dave’s great idea...
Dave had a great idea. He wanted to *practice*.
Wouldn’t it
               be great if we split into
                small groups to code
                     together..?




              Ciarán’s great idea...
Lightning struck twice... Ciaran had a good idea too. Didn’t like it that only 6-7 people
coded. Also, some attendees didn’t want to code in front of everyone but were happy in small
groups.
Two new dojo formats!



ZOMG! Epic win!
#1 Show and Tell Dojo
Rene (PyGame core dev) setting up a no-holes barred, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink
demo of PyGame... (if you ever meet Rene, ask him how he deploys websites).
More like a seminar
               than presentation.


We encourage attendees to interrupt, ask questions, debate, code along, point out problems
and generally don’t just sit there...
Participation expected
#2 Team Dojo
These evenings are generally very energetic, fun yet concentrated in nature. It’s social coding
in the raw.
(                                  &                                            )
                                      +

A bit like the classic TV programme “The Great Egg Race” or Scrapheap challenge... teams
complete a pre-defined task (with Python).
Suggest
                                                                       then
                                                                        vote
                                                                        on a
                                                                       topic

Task ideas written on the board during the pizza and beer bit at the start. We then vote and
split into teams.
Teams do the same task
This takes about 1.5 hours.
Show, tell, review & questions
Usually the best part of the evening (for me). Often the task is solved in interesting ways
*you* might not have imagined. Presenting, explaining code & design is a good thing to
practice.
Why participate in a
                   Dojo?


How does attending a dojo relate to our assumption that a good developer is always learning
and re-evaluating themselves in order to improve?
• Learn by doing (practice)
    • Fail safely with sympathy

    • Teach one another
    • Explain yourself to peers

    • Explore each other’s solutions
    • Build a community
Educational benefits of taking part in a Dojo are pretty obvious. You get to practice! Not the
original dojo format. We “forked” the concept, stole the ideas we liked & adapted it.
Nerds




             Nerd bait


The pizza and beer = important means of community building and getting people relaxed.
Share “war” stories, demo stuff and generally have a good time.
It’s just like IRC but
                you’re actually IRL!
Attendees ability/experience differs vastly. Social = non-skill based means of welcoming new
members and getting to know your peers.
What is a good Dojo?
(Attendee’s perspective)
It is FUN...
It’s easier to learn when you’re having a good time.
...to solve problems...
Attendees get to go on an evil mad scientist trip...
...in a place where it is
          safe to make mistaiks...
Celebrate failure! Important point: THIS IS JUST WHAT MUSICIAN’S DO IN A REHEARSAL. You
fail here so you don’t fail when it really matters.
...and you’re encouraged to show
      & tell what you’re up to.
Get feedback from the other attendees. Be open: analyse, appraise, report and support.
TEACH! These are all good virtues/skills for a developer to cultivate.
What is a good Dojo?
       (Organiser’s perspective)


I’m often mis-identified as the “organiser”. Actually, the group organises itself. I’m interested
in education & I’m reminded of something a former professor of mine once said in a lecture...
The effect of any
                                   educational activity should
                                   be to bring about a positive
                                       change in learners.




                        Keith Swanwick
       Emeritus Professor: Music Education (London University)
(Paraphrased)
This is a spade!
                                                              (obvious, right?)




                                http://www.flickr.com/photos/imcountingufoz/5602273537


Surely, all learning situations have positive outcomes..? They’ll be fun, interesting, life
changing, etc... (every teacher wants to be like Robin Williams in “Dead Poet’s Society”).
Really..?
Actually: NO. Often learning situations are boring, annoying, frustrating or just plain
*wrong*. You might be distracted, worried and/or compelled (rather than inspired).
How can you tell it’s
                 going well..?


HINT: if you see something like the previous photo then it’s going wrong. What is the essence
of a dojo going right..? I’d suggest something like...
•   There is a positive aim

           • Something is happening to
               achieve this aim

           •   It is possible to measure if
               the aim has been met (there
               is feedback)

This can be generalised to any sort of learning situation (and other things too) and at both
the group and individual level.
•   We decide on a problem

           • We work collaboratively in
               groups to solve the problem

           •   We show and tell what we
               did and ask for critique and
               suggestions

This is how I’d express it as a group based dojo.
Conclusion:
Some personal observations.


I assume everyone wants to be a better developer. One way to do this is attend a
dojo... but this is just one means to an end.
mmMMmm...
                                                               backwards talk
                                                                rubbish do I
                  How to be a
                  Jedi Hacker




People who want to improve are often looking for teachers - but beware of people who offer
themselves as gurus, who promote a “system” or offer pithy aphorisms.
This is common
                        in music


We have 500 years of examples in music education to draw upon. Methods and systems have
always existed, been developed, built upon and can definitely be useful but...
...they can safely be ignored if something else works for you. In the very worst cases they can
do serious damage (limit autonomy since they can be straightjackets).
WTF?




                           To be an über-Hacker is to
                          “grok” the source completely




Try not to be impressed/follow people offering “systems” & “methodologies”. Be cynical: ask
questions (like we do in the dojo). Learn to practice learning! Yeah, that’s a pithy
aphorism. ;-)
The only real
          wisdom is knowing you
               know nothing.




                                             http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/File:Socrates_Louvre.jpg




                  Socrates (469-399 BCE)
I’m with Socrates... don’t just blindly follow what other people say, make up your own mind.
Cultivate autonomy (an important concept within Philosophy of Education).
If you’re ever in London
          come along and say hi!
I advertise it on the Python-UK mailing list. I’ll eventually get round to doing a website. The
30 tickets usually sell out in about 6 hours of the first announcement (but email me anyway).
Questions..?


Binary beer bottles :-) A question for you: Are you going to organise a dojo..? Is it clear what
you have to do..? What’s stopping you..? Fork the concept and run with it!

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London Python Code Dojo: An Education in Developer Education

  • 1. The London Python Code Dojo An Education in Developer Education Nicholas Tollervey ntoll@ntoll.org The London Python Code Dojo is a community organised monthly meeting of Pythonistas. This non-technical talk explains what we get up to. My aim: to encourage you to organise a dojo.
  • 2. About Me: • Musician (tuba, piano, organ, theory & composition) • Teacher (mainly teenagers but also pre-school to adult) • Philosophy of Education (concept of creativity) • Writer (O’Reilly book coming soon) • Developer (Python for 3 years, .NET before) • Currently at Fluidinfo (world changing start-up) :-) Who the hell is ntoll and why is he interested in code dojos..?
  • 3. Agenda: • What is a Dojo? (Official vs London definition) • Why participate in a Dojo? (What’s in it for me?) • What is a good Dojo? (Attendee / Organiser) • Conclusion: Some personal observations. I re-wrote some of this talk as a practical response to the “diversity” and “genius” keynotes. A “dojo” is one way to address the vision/challenges these talks mention.
  • 4. What is a dojo? (official definition) Dojo is a martial arts term. It’s a place where you go to practice. I feel uncomfortable about this but the name has stuck. Perhaps we should call it a “Code-do” or “Py-do”..? (“do” means place)
  • 5. Invented here Started by French dudes in Paris around December 2004
  • 6. “Acquiring coding skills should be a continuous process...” http://codingdojo.org/ Very simple philosophy. Improving existing skills is also important.
  • 7. Assumption: A good developer is always learning and re-evaluating in order to improve. I hope we can all agree with this..?
  • 8. http://www.flickr.com/photos/19884852@N00/318274014/ Code Dojo = Deliberate Practice To improve one needs to practice...
  • 9. These are old ideas...
  • 10. The unexamined life is not worth living. http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/File:Socrates_Louvre.jpg Socrates (469-399 BCE) The father of Western philosophy... (2500 years ago) i.e. it’s good to be in a continuous process of examination and re-examination.
  • 11. Much learning does not teach understanding. http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/File:Heraclitus,_Johannes_Moreelse.jpg Heraclitus (c.535 - 475 BCE) The original grumpy old man of ancient Greek philosophy... in other words... don’t just read the book. Go *do* something... practice!
  • 12. Parisian Dojo Rules start 2mins: organise next dojo 30mins: retrospective on last dojo 10mins: decide the topic for this dojo dojo 40mins: code (either “prepared” or “randori” kata) 10mins: half time break 40mins: code end (not to scale) What happens at a dojo? codingdojo.org sets out detailed rules for timing and conduct... The interesting tasks are the two 40 minute “Kata”.
  • 13. http://www.flickr.com/photos/renfield/351557228/ Kata..? Kata is another borrowed martial arts term meaning “forms”. They’re pre-specified / choreographed steps to be practiced again and again. Improves muscle memory.
  • 14. Like scales or etude that musicians practice. Graded in difficulty & focus on particular “aspects”. Practice correctly: reflect aiming for autonomy. Code-dojo kata = code problems.
  • 15. Prepared Kata http://www.flickr.com/photos/foundphotoslj/466713478/ • A presenter shows how to solve the problem using TDD and BabySteps™ • Each step must make sense to everyone present • Only interrupt if you don’t understand what’s going on Two mechanisms for doing Kata in a dojo: Prepared and Randori. ^^^ Not a photo from the dojo... :-)
  • 16. Randori Kata pilot co-pilot happy to volunteer • Public pair programming using TDD • Each pair has a time slot • At the end the pilot returns to the audience, the co- pilot becomes the new pilot and a new co-pilot volunteers from the audience Randori means “chaos taking” (freestyle). Audience can’t interrupt, only co-pilot (ask questions, offer advice). Pilot gives a running commentary of thought process. (A dojo photo!)
  • 17. What is a dojo? (London definition) Arose from a conversation in a Python pub meet-up. I was explaining music “masterclasses”. Jonathan Hartley responded with an explanation of the code dojo. We organised a meeting...
  • 18. We didn’t know what we were doing and didn’t stick to the rules! We really did try hard at the start.
  • 19. Geeks actually socialising! Coding fuel Mistake #1: We started the evening with pizza and beer. This didn’t set the scene for calm and thoughtful coding.
  • 20. Code Good turnout About 25 people turned up. We chose to work using a Randori kata. The rule for a time slot was 10 minutes or a passing unit test for each pair. This worked quite well... (but)
  • 21. We only had Emacs or Vim available... vs ...and didn’t have a standard keyboard. The Twitter based kata sucked (too complex) :-( Only 6-7 people got a chance to pilot. Several more mistakes... Things we should have thought of in advance... :-(
  • 22. We got it to work! The task was to display a graph of a user’s followers on Twitter.
  • 23. Other stuff that wasn’t supposed to happen...
  • 24. • Spontaneous applause for working code • Audience participation • Lots of discussion & debate • A generally noisy time Not at all like the Parisian dojo. Sorry... :-(
  • 25. (actually, that was good stuff) In the discussion at the end we thought interaction was a positive aspect of the evening (photo of Gautier’s dojo beer bottle art). We continued doing Randori based dojo until...
  • 26. I want to do a presentation and get your feedback... Dave’s great idea... Dave had a great idea. He wanted to *practice*.
  • 27. Wouldn’t it be great if we split into small groups to code together..? Ciarán’s great idea... Lightning struck twice... Ciaran had a good idea too. Didn’t like it that only 6-7 people coded. Also, some attendees didn’t want to code in front of everyone but were happy in small groups.
  • 28. Two new dojo formats! ZOMG! Epic win!
  • 29. #1 Show and Tell Dojo Rene (PyGame core dev) setting up a no-holes barred, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink demo of PyGame... (if you ever meet Rene, ask him how he deploys websites).
  • 30. More like a seminar than presentation. We encourage attendees to interrupt, ask questions, debate, code along, point out problems and generally don’t just sit there...
  • 32. #2 Team Dojo These evenings are generally very energetic, fun yet concentrated in nature. It’s social coding in the raw.
  • 33. ( & ) + A bit like the classic TV programme “The Great Egg Race” or Scrapheap challenge... teams complete a pre-defined task (with Python).
  • 34. Suggest then vote on a topic Task ideas written on the board during the pizza and beer bit at the start. We then vote and split into teams.
  • 35. Teams do the same task This takes about 1.5 hours.
  • 36. Show, tell, review & questions Usually the best part of the evening (for me). Often the task is solved in interesting ways *you* might not have imagined. Presenting, explaining code & design is a good thing to practice.
  • 37. Why participate in a Dojo? How does attending a dojo relate to our assumption that a good developer is always learning and re-evaluating themselves in order to improve?
  • 38. • Learn by doing (practice) • Fail safely with sympathy • Teach one another • Explain yourself to peers • Explore each other’s solutions • Build a community Educational benefits of taking part in a Dojo are pretty obvious. You get to practice! Not the original dojo format. We “forked” the concept, stole the ideas we liked & adapted it.
  • 39. Nerds Nerd bait The pizza and beer = important means of community building and getting people relaxed. Share “war” stories, demo stuff and generally have a good time.
  • 40. It’s just like IRC but you’re actually IRL! Attendees ability/experience differs vastly. Social = non-skill based means of welcoming new members and getting to know your peers.
  • 41. What is a good Dojo? (Attendee’s perspective)
  • 42. It is FUN... It’s easier to learn when you’re having a good time.
  • 43. ...to solve problems... Attendees get to go on an evil mad scientist trip...
  • 44. ...in a place where it is safe to make mistaiks... Celebrate failure! Important point: THIS IS JUST WHAT MUSICIAN’S DO IN A REHEARSAL. You fail here so you don’t fail when it really matters.
  • 45. ...and you’re encouraged to show & tell what you’re up to. Get feedback from the other attendees. Be open: analyse, appraise, report and support. TEACH! These are all good virtues/skills for a developer to cultivate.
  • 46. What is a good Dojo? (Organiser’s perspective) I’m often mis-identified as the “organiser”. Actually, the group organises itself. I’m interested in education & I’m reminded of something a former professor of mine once said in a lecture...
  • 47. The effect of any educational activity should be to bring about a positive change in learners. Keith Swanwick Emeritus Professor: Music Education (London University) (Paraphrased)
  • 48. This is a spade! (obvious, right?) http://www.flickr.com/photos/imcountingufoz/5602273537 Surely, all learning situations have positive outcomes..? They’ll be fun, interesting, life changing, etc... (every teacher wants to be like Robin Williams in “Dead Poet’s Society”).
  • 49. Really..? Actually: NO. Often learning situations are boring, annoying, frustrating or just plain *wrong*. You might be distracted, worried and/or compelled (rather than inspired).
  • 50. How can you tell it’s going well..? HINT: if you see something like the previous photo then it’s going wrong. What is the essence of a dojo going right..? I’d suggest something like...
  • 51. There is a positive aim • Something is happening to achieve this aim • It is possible to measure if the aim has been met (there is feedback) This can be generalised to any sort of learning situation (and other things too) and at both the group and individual level.
  • 52. We decide on a problem • We work collaboratively in groups to solve the problem • We show and tell what we did and ask for critique and suggestions This is how I’d express it as a group based dojo.
  • 53. Conclusion: Some personal observations. I assume everyone wants to be a better developer. One way to do this is attend a dojo... but this is just one means to an end.
  • 54. mmMMmm... backwards talk rubbish do I How to be a Jedi Hacker People who want to improve are often looking for teachers - but beware of people who offer themselves as gurus, who promote a “system” or offer pithy aphorisms.
  • 55. This is common in music We have 500 years of examples in music education to draw upon. Methods and systems have always existed, been developed, built upon and can definitely be useful but...
  • 56. ...they can safely be ignored if something else works for you. In the very worst cases they can do serious damage (limit autonomy since they can be straightjackets).
  • 57. WTF? To be an über-Hacker is to “grok” the source completely Try not to be impressed/follow people offering “systems” & “methodologies”. Be cynical: ask questions (like we do in the dojo). Learn to practice learning! Yeah, that’s a pithy aphorism. ;-)
  • 58. The only real wisdom is knowing you know nothing. http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/File:Socrates_Louvre.jpg Socrates (469-399 BCE) I’m with Socrates... don’t just blindly follow what other people say, make up your own mind. Cultivate autonomy (an important concept within Philosophy of Education).
  • 59. If you’re ever in London come along and say hi! I advertise it on the Python-UK mailing list. I’ll eventually get round to doing a website. The 30 tickets usually sell out in about 6 hours of the first announcement (but email me anyway).
  • 60. Questions..? Binary beer bottles :-) A question for you: Are you going to organise a dojo..? Is it clear what you have to do..? What’s stopping you..? Fork the concept and run with it!