Subtle Changes after Hacker School

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Coming to Hacker School in Feb sure made me a better programmer, but there are a few other things that have changed. Subtle but profound.

  • Subtle-isms

Hacker School has a social rule revolving around subtle-isms, which bans racism, sexism and other forms of bias. Now I never identified myself as any kind of subtle-ist, but now I notice these things when people talk around me more. I notice it more when I talk. When I say something about someone, or when someone says something, at events I go to, when talking to friends, I can tell myself or say it aloud, Hey, that's racist, or Hey, that's sexist, even with things that have become so ingrained it never occured to me in the past that it was one of those subtle-isms. For instance, referring to group of people as "guys", or involuntarily deciding all people who were from South East Asia to be Chinese, are things I now realise as wrong, and have my gaurd up against.

  • Feigning Surprise

The other social rule which is against feigning surprise - The number of times I've heard feigned surprise and the number of times I did it myself before, unconsciously even, took me by surprise. When someone asked what some simple thing was, my automated response would begin with, oh you don't know? It's just this simple thing you know... I wouldn't be condescending, but that's how I was responding! Once I came to Hacker School and learnt this little rule, I was now replying with, Okay, so, this is how it works. And I took it back home with me. When a school kid came home to ask some Math doubt to my brother, I told him before he was going to teach her, Hey, don't feign surprise if she doesn't know something you think is trivial. Teach with patience. And I'm happy I did that.

  • Fear of judgement

Hacker School and to some extent, all of New York, have been places that are completely free of judgement. Places to make mistakes and recover without any shame, because no one was judging you. I always had a fear about what others think of what I do, and that has controlled my whole life. Now having functioned in these environments, I feel so much more secure, even if to make a fool of myself - I can tell myself I'm learning, and it doesn't matter at all what others think. And that freedom in my head is life changing.

Being a part of this inclusive community is definitely one of the best decisions I've made. Hacker School <3.

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