My summer included a trip to Canterbury, England. The University of Kent was hosting a computer science education conference, ITiCSE 2013. I was presenting and I also participated in my favorite part about ITiCSE: a working group.
Arriving in Canterbury was painful for a variety of reasons:
Once settled in, I looked at the university map and saw a maze-like structure. I was sure it was a hedgerow maze, probably with a dragon in it.
The real labyrinth wasn’t quite so glamorous, but it was a nice way to unwind after a stressful arrival.
Being in England again brought back many memories of my honeymoon with me wife. We had traveled here 10 years earlier with backpacks and a tent to embark on our new life together. I saw again the small garden-yards, the buildings of bygone centuries sticking out anachronistically next to shoe stores and business complexes, and the melting pot that is England. Oh, I saw fun expressions too.
One night we ate at the Old Buttermarket. Above our table was a call for lifelong learning.
I ordered the oven pancakes, which were better than the waiter made them sound.
One of the things I must contend with when traveling internationally is criticism of America. I’ve yet to hear a good argument that there’s anything special about Americans that make them so abominable. I’m pretty certain that if these same critics had grown up in America, they would be just like the Americans they tease. I think what provokes their criticism is the pride and fear that is common to humanity. My country puts that universal brokenness in the public eye, and that brokenness is mistakenly called American.
Did you know begging is illegal in Canterbury?
The University of Kent hosted the conference and put us up for the night. That was really great. Full English breakfasts everyday. Cheaper rates. And fun artifacts.
Conferences tend to have special banquets one of the nights. We took a bus to Dover, which is pretty close to France. The food was enjoyable, I learned about the Codespells project, and I got to see the famous white cliffs.
Strangely, I did not attend many sessions. The working group paper and my own presentation kept me busy. It was worth missing things though, because now my Erdős number is 5. I did see one of the creators of Haskell speak, not on Haskell, but on computer science education.
The most meaningful part of attending ITiCSE 2013 came from working closely with my working group. I signed up so that I could see how real education researchers operate, and I spent most of the time early on feeling very inadequate. Statistics and psychology are not my strong points. However, my colleagues in turn expressed envy of my technical skills and classroom ideas. We all need each other. It’s just like the vandalism says.