Valorie’s enrolled in City University to get her Masters in Teaching. Yesterday was her orientation class, and one of the lectures was entitled “How to put pants on an Elephant”.
My first reaction on hearing the title of the lecture was “Huh?” That makes no sense whatsoever.
But Valorie went on to explain:
When her professor was a 5 or 6 year old, his father took him to see the circus parade. As his father explained it, he should pay close attention to the guys that walked behind the elephants, since they had the most important job in the circus.
Well, the elephants came on by and there were a couple of guys with brooms and shovels trotting dutifly behind them.
“Why are those guys the most important guys in the circus?” the professor-to-be asked.
His father replied, “Well, if they weren’t there, what would happen to the elephants poop?”
“Oh, you’re right”.
From the other side of the kids’ father, came a young voice “I don’t know, I’d just put pants on the elephant”.
Valorie’s professor then went on to explain that the lecture was to discuss all of the things that could go wrong during the class and how they should be mitigated. The class broke up into small groups and the groups discussed things that would disrupt the education process – things like people not doing their work, or people who do the work of others, people coming to the lecture with garlic on their breath, etc. Each group came up with what they thought was the full set of things that could go wrong, and devised a plan to mitigate them.
The more that I’ve thought about that lecture, the more that I’ve come to realize that they essentially went through the process of writing a threat model for their class – to them, the threats were the things that prevented them from having a quality learning experience.
So when I start writing the threat model for the component my team is designing next week, I’ll be thinking about putting pants on an elephant. And what other things exist that can make my project go wrong.
Edit: Valorie’s not “hoping” to get her degree, she’s GOING to get her degree.