Learning to Code is Damn Hard

Read Why Learning to Code is So Damn Hard (Thinkful)

...for the most part, ... introductory tools do a great job of guiding you like a child in a crosswalk past the big scary variables and conditional statements and through the early phases of programming syntax. As you conquer one after another of their gamified challenges, your confidence rises. Maybe you can do this after all! How hard can it be? You're basically a developer already!

I’ve written code since I was about 13 (1980). First BASIC, then later Pascal, assembler, C, C++, Perl, Java, PHP etc. Back in the 1980s, everyone was self-taught. You either figured it out or you didn’t. No Google. No online tutorials.

Learning a new language — the basic syntax etc — takes time is you’ve never done it before. Being good enough at it so that you can build an application on your own or as part of a team takes longer.

My daughter is learning to code now — she’s teaching her self — and I want to encourage her. But I also want her expectations to be realistic. I want her to understand that coding isn’t just putting little boxes with code snippets into a graphical web GUI.

I want her to be wary of hyperbolic claims about learning to code and becoming a developer in just a few weeks.

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2 responses on “Learning to Code is Damn Hard”

  1. It gets worse than that sometimes. I’ve heard some of my friends say how proud that their kids knows how to code. When I press for details I find out that all they did was type in code from a book on how to control am Arduino powered robot.

  2. This is why I’m conflicted about initiatives like the hour of code. On the one hand, I want to see more young people exposed to computer science and problem solving. On the other, I don’t like that it’s being promoted as easy.

    I agree that most people can learn to program at some level, but programming for a living is much harder than some are implying.

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