re: If you could change one thing about learning to code, what would it be? VIEW POST


I wish I would have not tried to learn C++ as my first language. The first few years I spent trying to learn programming were a complete waste of time and effort, I was top young to have any sort of clue what I was learning. It all worked out in the end, but I'm still kind of amazed that I was stubborn enough to keep pushing through the failure and confusion.


I really wish there were a lot more accessible languages in computer science when I was enrolled in a degree towards it around 2001ish. It's taken me more than a decade to really get back into programming and found that I like it again. If Ruby or Python or even Javascript was at the level it is today back about 18 or 19 years ago, I probably would have finished that degree instead of changing majors. Now I can approach things like C# and a few of the scripting languages with a lot of ease. Though I hear C++ has changed a lot for the better these days, it still scared me off way back when.


I think the way that things were taught was off-putting too. When I had to learn C in university, it was a terrible experience. The updates to the language made in 1999 (C99 dialect) improved the language a ton, but we didn't learn about any of that. It almost felt like some of my professors considered it a rite of passage that since C was miserable when they learned it, it was going to be a miserable experience when you learned it too.

I'm fortunate enough that I knew as much as I did in high school because I ended up teaching my AP Computer Science class. The teacher had no experience with programming whatsoever and didn't know Java at all. He was basically learning the language with us. A few people tried really hard to learn it on their own and participate, but 2/3 of the class played Age of Empires or Starcraft against each other everyday and bombed the exam.

It saddens me that kids are in a position where they can't study topics that interest them. My school district was incredibly wealthy, and they couldn't bother to hire a single teacher with programming experience. It makes me fear for creative classes even more...if kids can't get the resources they need to discover if a STEM career is right for them, they probably won't get the chance to learn how to express themselves and develop their own sense of self. I can't help wonder if that's on purpose :(

Funny you should say that, I had AP Computer Science in high school with C++. I relied on everything from that class for my first courses at University. Then when I hit data structures and had a class with 100+ students and the teacher was unavailable, only teaching assistants available. We had no computers in the classroom, the tests were all handwritten code. They added a computer lab to the class about a decade after I left. We didn't use the issued book for the class because the book was littered with errors, but a custom written book that the teacher wrote that was on printouts stapled at the book shop.

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