Monday, October 13, 2014

Welcome to STORMING THE CASTLE, a pilot grassroots open source self-study Ruby on Rails boot camp alternative curriculum focused on easy access, user-friendliness, and community support!

Omg. That was a LOT of words in that title. Let’s break that out a little bit.

First things first: Hi! I’m Utah, a Seattle-based Queer On The Rise™ looking to break into the tech field as a Rails developer. This project is about me, but it’s also about diversifying the coding field overall by making education accessible to people from chronically underrepresented socioeconomic groups.
Before I began coding, I got a Masters in Biology. I’ve been an educator for over a decade, including 7+ years teaching math and science to high school and college students – meaning I’ve got mad skills with learning hard stuff and breaking it down for others. This is important, because my aim isn’t just to educate myself – it’s to create a community-based curriculum that others can follow.

Tech has a diversity problem.

If we want more diversity in tech, we need better access. Specifically, we need better access to realistic education that addresses not only the material itself, but also a) the need for time and resources to learn, and b) the need for community and mentoring.

There are a lot of great resources for women who are beginning to learn to program, but once we start to push beyond introductory level work, the opportunities narrow.
If you can afford to quit your job and pay $12,000 for a nine-week boot camp, you can make it past this crunch. I don’t know about you, but I’ve looked everywhere, and I’m fresh out of $12,000. This is really not a feasible option for a lot of people.

Many free self-study options do exist, but they’re based on an isolationist model that imagines individuals working alone. This just isn’t how most people learn, and it can be particularly difficult for people who already face barriers to entry in the tech industry (like women, LGBTQ people, and people of color.) Realistically – and you’re gonna want to put an arm around the person next to you and sway gently as you read this next part – we need people. We need people, and we need help.

In short, we can’t increase the numbers of underrepresented minority folks in tech if we can’t increase access, and we can’t increase access if the price of entry is $12,000. We need community-based curricula that are free, understandable, and create mentoring relationships and networks that support learners. 

And so…Storming The Castle:

I am leveraging my mad teaching skills to distill the curriculum as I go, blog about the learning, and create easy-to-use reference materials – essentially testing and refining a more accessible model of vocational training for folks who can’t afford a $12,000 boot camp or a computer science degree.

These are the goals of Storming The Castle:

1.  To complete the curriculum myself and be employable as a junior developer at the end of three months (because, heck yeah!)

2.  To finalize and make available online a free self-study curriculum that bridges the gap between beginner level learning and professional coding, and that deals explicitly with real world barriers to learning.

3.  To blog, both as part of the curriculum itself, and to document the process of learning the curriculum, engaging with community, dealing with impostor syndrome (yay!), and getting really psyched about stuff I just made.

You should totally keep following this blog. 
For those who do, I can say only this:

Welcome to the most vicariously awesome 12 weeks of your life.

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