The world according to Douglass: otherwise known as “Teddy bear debugging”

“Teddy bear debugging” has become a bit of “thing”. Apparently, it’s also known as Rubber Duck Debugging, Rubber Ducking, and Teddy Bear Pair Programming.

When you have a debugging problem that you really just can’t solve, get your teddy bear (I’m serious, get your bear), bring it to the monitor and explain (in words, out loud) to your teddy what the problem is and why it isn’t working.

This is a sure-fire, clinically proven way to solve whatever debugging problem you have.  As I mentioned earlier, I’m absolutely serious about sitting your teddy down beside you and talking (with your voice, not in your head) to it. Now, it doesn’t absolutely have to be a teddy.  It could be a Lego figure, or an action figure, a parent or a sibling (if they’re willing) or even a balloon with a face and ears drawn on in pen. The important thing is that you explain aloud in words what the problem is, because that helps you identify it for yourself.

In my world, though, it’s all about Douglass. Douglass is a paper mache cow who lives above my desk: a gift from one of my children who made him in a year 8 art class. Douglass is knowing: when I run through a virtual classroom session (yes, audibly) he has a habit of look mildly reproachful when I stumble over my words, repeat myself, or grind to a halt. Which I do.
I don’t know who commented that it takes a lot of rehearsal to look spontaneous, but in my experience, virtual classrooms require more preparation than face to face workshops. You need to imagine your audience, use the console and sound constantly upbeat, or at least engaged. And, as Ben pointed out, we all have our vocal habits that are probably quite irritating.
In my experience, I get the best results when I talk to Douglass.
So whoever “Douglass” is in your household, I suggest you place him (?her) in pride of place on your desk.

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