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This is the third post in continuation to the previous posts (Post-I and Post-II), which discussed the views of various testing experts against the concept of Schools of Testing.

In this post, I would publish the views, which I consolidated from one of the comments in Cem Kaner’s blog and SQAForums. This post also includes some views that are not against the schools concept but give an additional dimension to it, forcing one to rethink some basic ideas of the schools division.
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Doug Hoffman as a part of his comment on Cem Kaner’s blog post says:

“I consider myself a member of the context school because I’ve actively practiced most software testing techniques as I found appropriate in different contexts. However, I’m unsure about the school concept because [I think] I am a member of several schools. I believe I’ve been able to successfully apply different test techniques in diverse situations by adopting the mindset that I believe represents what’s needed to be successful. Rather than being just context driven, I have approached the situations from the viewpoint of the organizations’ culture and mindset. Each mindset leads me to behave and think as a member of a different school. I’ve sometimes described myself as a chameleon – able to adapt and blend into various organizations’ cultures. Maybe it’s more like my being a method actor; getting into a part by really becoming the character the script calls for.”


The discussions I’ve seen about the schools have usually been exclusionary – a person belongs to one or another school and their behavior is predictable based on that. I don’t think that exclusion is necessary or helpful. My view is that different techniques, paradigms, or schools are more like languages than religions. A language is a mechanism for organizing and expressing ideas. A religion is a set of deep rooted beliefs. When a person becomes fluent in a language it requires much more than knowing syntax and having a large vocabulary. A person becomes fluent by thinking in that language and understanding the culture it expresses. If a person is translating to what they find natural, they aren’t yet fluent. Once a person becomes fluent, it’s natural to think and speak in that language and culture. [Programming languages like JAVA, COBOL, LISP, and SMALLTALK are very different languages and expert programmers use different thought processes for each.]
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SQAForums
The background of this discussion is the thread which was started on this forum with the title Caner’s Schools Of Software Testing Article by Corey Goldberg. Some of the posts have been quoted in my previous post.
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Corey Goldberg recollects how Cem Kaner’s article changed his initial feelings which were against the idea of schools of testing. He floats some good thoughts therein –
“I was just generally looking to what others in the community thought about this topic.

My initial feelings were always that the entire “schools” concept was a ridiculous and counterproductive idea (for most of the same reasons Linda and Jake expressed).

However, reading Cem’s article gave me a slightly new perspective.. Will it change anything in my daily work? of course not. However it did make me realize that we are a very young and immature field that is still generally forming itself. If collections of people decide to label themselves as a useful form of differentiation that will help them form new ideas and methodologies.. then I think it is a positive thing.


You must also realize that most of this is framed in a pretty theoretical manner..
some people here seem to be most focused on the job at hand rather than conceptual or theoretical ways to advance the future of our craft… and that is fine.. and that probably represents the vast majority of people in the industry. However, others are more interested larger and more cerebral issues.. and that is fine also. That is the reason why companies hire engineers and also hire “evangelists” and “advocates” (yes those are real job titles)

how can you ever have a paradigm shift if you never concede that any paradigms exist?”
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Linda Wilkinson (alias “ljeanwilkin”) one of the moderators – does a critical analysis of the idea. In the process, she asks some questions, which should be surely given a thought, if one is interested in evaluating both sides of the coin (I do).-
“Is the problem that schools are by their nature exclusionary, or that the school we recognize for ourselves is not represented? If it’s A, I’m not sure the problem is surmountable. If it’s B, we just need to add another school .

For the sake of a Good Argument, let’s say that there are schools. Do you belong to a school due to your experience and what you practice daily, regardless of what you believe is right? Or do you belong to a school because of what you believe? If it’s what you believe, is it really a school or a religion? Particularly if part of belonging to a school involves converting the heathen to your way of thinking…

Can one belong to more than one school? I ask because it is unusual for someone to have more than one religion, but common for professional people to have more than one degree, certification, or area of proficiency.

If there ARE schools, what are the estimates of the percentage of professionals, world-wide, that belong to those schools? What if (and I love what if questions), the Contextual School, with it’s braintrust and sophisticated, select membership, actually represents 5% of the actual practitioners in the world? Would that change their perspective or goals? Would they start focusing on the issues and problems of the other 95% of the field? What if the found out the same thing? Would they throw in the towel and admit that agility is generally regarded as a positive thing? I’d be really interested in hearing what that would mean, if anything, to the published “leaders” of each of these schools. What tends to repel me, personally, about both clubs and this concept, is that a given group usually points at other groups and says “You’re unwilling to change!”, while at the same time, they themselves vigorously resist recognition of any reality that differs from what they want reality to be. Again, I think it’s form of blindness or prejudice.”

She has addressed some more points in her comments for my previous post.

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Jim Hazen one of the active members of the forum, appreciates the concept of schools, by recollecting his thoughts from his formal degree in Zoology. He acknowledges that the schools of thought do exist, by saying “One thing I took away from my studies in Zoology is that people do have “schools of thought” and that they can be very devout or non-secular.”. He further indicates that though we already “clump” to our basic activities as a tester, but we “split”, when we formulate how to conduct them. So, assuming him to be in favour of schools of testing, why I refer him in this post is, because he leaves an interesting perspective through the course of discussion –
“Talk of all these “schools” has been interesting. But we seem to have forgot one of the most important ones, “The School of Hard Knocks”. Nothing like On-the-Job Training, or OJT.

As has been said, experience is one of the best teachers. Wrap your mind around that one and get circular.”
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As mentioned, this concludes my findings on the web for views against or reflecting additional perspective regarding schools of testing. It also concludes all the published stuff, atleast in my reach. I will publish Views of Indian Testing Community in the next few posts. I have collected these views by getting in touch with some testing guys (wait to see some familiar names), and requesting them to express their views on the subject.

Note: James Bach and Cem Kaner have left their comments on the previous post.After this good dose of views not in favour, it’s always good to go back and see, what they have to add in favour of the concept.

This is the eighth post in the series “The Big Fight – Schools of Testing”. For my previous posts on Schools of Testing, you can check the posts under the Schools of Testing Category.

Rahul Verma

www.testingperspective.com

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