Hacker School

What is Hacker School?

I get this question a lot.  In fact, I get it just about every time I tell someone why I am in NYC.  It’s usually preceded by the question (in confused, appalled tones), ‘You want to be a hacker?!’.  Except for technical people.  Their response is, ‘Cool!’

The best explanation of what hacker school is can be found on their website: https://www.hackerschool.com/about.  Here’s a condensed version as I see it:

Hacker school is a 3-month intensive learning program for programmers.  It might best be described by what it is not:  there are no classes at hacker school.  No teachers. No grades. No homework. No set curriculum. No tests.  Almost everything that defines ‘school’ is missing at hacker school except for one key thing: Learning.  The focus of every person present is to learn as much as he or she can to make himself or herself a better programmer.  We set aside 8+ hours a day to program with peers with that same focus, work on interesting problems, and ask each other questions.  Our projects and studies take us in many different directions depending on interests: logic gates, all different programming languages (C, Python, Ruby, JavaScript, Erlang, Clojure, and more), mobile, algorithms, machine learning, image processing, natural language processing…

Now, you could certainly learn about all these things without hacker school, but what really makes this program special is the community it fosters.  Everyone at hacker school wants to be there, loves to learn, and is friendly and helpful.  There is no such thing as a ‘dumb’ question.  Being able to ask questions and receive instant feedback enables me to learn much faster.  The social pressure to achieve your goals keeps focus levels high and decreases the appeal of distractions.

Starting with the current batch, hacker school is also hosting residents – programmers with more experience who come in and hack with us, answer questions, and give pointers for improvement.  Often they will give talks on their areas of expertise as well.  Pretty cool stuff.

If this sounds interesting to you, and you’re willing to move to New York City for three months, you should apply!

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