Today marks the end of my first week at The Starter League. Two weeks ago I stuffed a bunch of flannels in my suitcase and hopped on a flight to Chicago.

My short time in this city has been a crazy experience. I left with no idea where I would be living, and knew my peers only through passing email conversations.

Formerly Code Academy, The Starter League is an intensive three-month program to turn out web designers, and developers. It is a new phenomenon in education known as a “Hacker School.”

The Hacker School Marks a New Education Paradigm

I obsessively try to understand how we learn, and have an infatuation with new ideas.

Trying to start FRUGGL (my first business), I saw the disconnect between college and the real world from the first row. I needed a blueprint to running PPC campaigns, and I got an expensive theoretical lesson that was no longer relevant.

School, as I remember it, is about memorizing things and searching for an answer. The first day of class at The Starter League we were told not to memorize anything, and that we should be looking for the question, not the answer.

While The Starter League is a Hacker School specifically focused on building coders, I Imagine we will start to see many similar schools with different disciplines start to appear. Growth Hacker Academy, anybody?

Education alternatives like Hacker Schools are popping up everywhere. People are desperate to learn things that have value in today’s economy, and don’t want to pay $20,000 a year.

Ruby on Rails for Designers

I am in the first Rails for Designers cohort.

The class is taught by Jeff Cohen and Raghu Betina at 37 Signals. It is already apparent that they work extremely well with one another. The class consists of about 15 Starter League Students, Starter League Founder Neal Sales-Griffin, and 37 Signals Founder Jason Fried.

I have already learned a huge amount in a short period of time. Tuesday we learned how to navigate the terminal, to combine strings, and do mathematical operations. Thursday we got into loops, arrays and hashes.

I am already a fan of Ruby. The language uses little punctuation and is extremely easy to read. Ruby feels like a language that was designed for humans to read, as opposed to javascript, where I am often plagued by punctuation errors.

Starter League Hacker Den

We spent about $120 on all our furniture combined.

Building our Hacker Den

The hacker den is coming together quite nicely. The metal chairs, and foldout table complement granite countertops, and hardwood flooring better than I expected.

I was planning on buying a futon, but five nights after moving in I am still sleeping on the floor. Oddly, I have been averaging about 10 hours of sleep each night. It is too early to say if it is from exhaustion or the floor.

Last night a few of us got together to start building a basic application. I was hoping we could get it done by the time I wrote this, but it looks like that will have to wait.

What else am I forgetting?  There have been so many events in the last few days it is difficult to keep track of all of them. Charity Water founder Scott Harrison gave a great presentation about bringing clean water to millions, and  reinventing charity . Scott is a truly fascinating guy. I highly recommend his interview with Kevin Rose on Foundation.

This article is from the archives.

Posted by:Sam Solomon

I'm a designer, writer and tinkerer. I currently lead workflow and design systems at Salesloft.