A Series of Paradox: 1
In Straits Times, November 25, 2010, issue, on page.36, Mr Robert J. Sternberg has said this about some people who have done well in schools and universities: "They are smart but foolish."
Here he even discusses five characteristics of such smart-foolish people: unrealistic optimism, egocentrism, omniscience, omnipotence, and invulnerability. Shall I just say such people are (1) too sure of themselves and (2) indifferent to well-being of other people.
Another Paradox: 2
In Secrets of the Rock Star Programmers: Riding the IT Crest, Max Levchin, co-founder of PayPal, said that he wanted programmers who could teach him, who are smarter than him, who are "clever but not insane."
How can a clever programmer be insane at the same time?
There's no paradox at all here.
Doing well in exams, being clever with programming -- these are things I envy, I admire. How can they be bad?
A person who does well in exams, has some right to expect some greatness in life. A person who knows a lot of programming also has earned the right to expect to write great code. But will they become great in life or write great code?
I insist again that there's no paradox at all here. To make things very clear, let's me exaggerate these cases out of proportions.
What if the scholar has cheated? Knew the questions in advance? Got unfair amount of coaching? Made improper amount of sacrifices for this scholastic excellence?
Then, it is very unlikely that s/he can re-create those 'success' conditions in life. Then, s/he will not do as well in life as in exams.
Regarding the person who knows a lot of programming, does s/he also know that writing code is more than just a matter of mastering programming syntax, commands and API's? If s/he doesn't recognize this, their code-writing will be just as effective as waging a war without considering political and economic factors.
If you do well in exams in proper ways, you will do just as well in Life.
If you really want to write good code, you will.
True (not fake, not bought) knowledge, excellence, mastery in one area never affects your performance in other areas of life unless you allow it.
So, please do well in exams. Please master programming syntax and API's.
And then write great code.