It’s a matter of degrees. Like when I was working on my MA in music. Yeah, I had opinions about what I’d rather be learning and even disagreed with a little of what I was taught. But I respected the system enough to just sit back and learn. After, some of my preconceived notions were abandoned. Some were reinforced. But I trusted my teachers and learned a lot in the process.
Yeah, I remember some guys in the program that complained about the “old-fashioned top-down” system. These guys wanted to take charge of their own studies. Of the four I can think of off the top of my head, not one finished their degree. None of them finished any degree. Three of them have menial jobs. These were really smart guys that just couldn’t fit into the system. They thought they could do a better job - they couldn’t.
And we live in a culture that reinforces that nihilistic attitude. We live in the “me-me-me” culture on steroids. Our culture encourages egocentrism and solipsism.
There is a spectrum from the old school top-down approach and the “I’m the center of the universe and I’ll decide what I need to learn” approach. Things use to be swung to far in one direction. Now - at least for some - it’s swung to far in the other.
As a teacher, I love when students ask questions. I love it when they have opinions. And there are times when I say, “OK, let’s try that out and see where it leads.” But then there is the other extreme. A few months ago I had a student come in and ask to learn jazz. I love playing jazz and I love teaching it. But then he said, “Yeah, but I don’t really want to learn any chords, music theory, and I hate playing scales.” [sigh] There is no way to do that. I tried, but he only lasted a month before quitting.
I agree that “with coding, a simple linear curriculum is a bit artificial”. I would even say that any path is somewhat arbitrary. But any path (chosen by knowledgeable people) is better than having an uninformed, somewhat random, self-directed path. Like my old music theory teacher used to say, “There is more than one answer. There are also and infinite number of wrong answers, but it is true that there is more than one right one.” Yes, there are a lot of ways to get from my house to the airport. But you probably won’t get there by guessing streets at random. You’d need to already know where the airport is and know the streets pretty well. Or have someone guide you.
We tend to lionize the self-taught approach. But in reality, there aren’t many true autodidacts that succeed. Most people just don’t have the discipline, especially in our world of distractions.
Most people here are probably a mix. Yes, I followed the FCC path, but I also took a lot of self-directed side trips. Those were valuable. But so was following a good path that led me somewhere.