theFirehose, an online code (Rails) school + mentoring

At least two of my coworkers are doing . I know we’ve talked about the Webcraft Guild in times past, and I’m always interested when people describe their experiences with new ways of learning things. What are your thoughts? How do you think the Webcraft Guild idea is different? I can think of lots of differences, like the Webcraft Guild would be more apprenticeship-based and less teacher-classroom. But I still think it’s an interesting blend of the whole MOOC-style thing (technology making it so that a ‘teacher’ can reach a wide audience of ‘students’) mixed with 1-1 mentorship pairing.

I’ve also been looking at worker-owned collectives like (and have only glanced at the network ), which could also have apprenticeship-based systems too. I myself went through an apprenticeship at Blazing Cloud and keep thinking about ways to match mentors with growing learners and have it all be sustainable.

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I think it really comes down to the individual taking the classes. If someone is in it to learn, they’ll graduate from it, then continue building things they actually want to build, because they are fun and/or useful. That kind of person will have a portfolio of small various apps they’ve made for themselves, that they actually use.

The majority of people I’ve met who graduate from these kind of things seem to want to just get into development because it pays well. They take the classes, don’t work on anything out of class, and after the package is over they don’t work on anything. They just start looking around for a job, wondering why no one is interested in interviewing with them. They showcase the ~2-3 apps they made in their school, which are just shells that talk to APIs of various things.

It’s like people who get certifications for things, but don’t really know it.

That said, this is in Portland, OR, so I don’t know about how it works on the rest of the planet. But I’ve been involved in some hiring here, and nearly all the graduates we’ve talked to have been a little disappointing.

Most of the developers I know have varying backgrounds, but the common thread is there was a point in their lives when they needed or wanted to make something. It was hard and really kind of above their skillset, but they did it and learned a ton.

All that to say, I’ve found mentoring to be a better way to learn than classroom. Last ~3 years I have had a couple mentors that really helped me leap to the next level of… wherever I am now. Now I am mentoring some people at my job, and it feels great to pass along tricks and help, saving them so much time.

This ended up being a little rambly; sorry.

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