2013-12-12 Coding

I am amused by the push to teach people to code.The coding isn’t the hard part. It’s the continual torrent of problem-solving; of “why doesn’t this WORK!??!?!” frustration; of figuring out a dozen ways to do something and Not Knowing which is best; of having to step back and figure out What and Why and For Whom long before you get to How.

That’s what I want to teach people. Not “for i=1 to never”.

Dunno, maybe I will.

Like ·  · Share · Yesterday at 7:40am · 
  • 4 people like this.
  • Rick Kovalcik I think the hard part is not creating problems and writing code that is maintainable both by the coder and others who follow after the coder.
  • Dan Ritter The hard part is thinking so clearly that a computer can follow your instructions.
  • Alex Feinman All of these things are hard! Though I think the one Dan points out is too often concentrated on. Giving people and experimental playground in which to try stuff out greatly reduces the difficulty of precise articulation, because you can see the results of what you ‘say’ and adjust nearly in realtime.
  • Alex Bradley It really depends what your goal is. There’s problem solving involved in any occupation or hobby, and if you want to teach people to be engineers, well, that’s a useful skill for a lot of things – and one which they only sidelong teach in most ComputerScience departments.

    But, if your goal is to teach more people to understand the principles of how code is put together, and potentially put basic scripting within reach of a large percentage of users, you might never need them to become professionals.
  • Ian Osmond The year I started taking programming in high school, our teacher was a guy in the math department who’d never taught programming before, but DID have some experience in programming. He’d never learned Pascal, which is what the course was being taught in, so he told us that his plan was to keep two or three chapters ahead of us in the textbook, and he expected us to keep our eyes out for mistakes he might make and correct him if he did.

    Anyway, he also gave us a couple of real-life problems he’d dealt with. One which I remember was that he was brought in to see if he couldn’t make a computer system boot faster, because the user hated to wait in the morning for the system to come up. My teacher went in and observed the guy, and then told him to turn on the computer as soon as he walked in, and THEN go get his coffee and stuff.

    Worked like a charm; the guy never had to wait through his boot sequence again. Programming problem solved without ever touching the computer.

    So THAT’S a programming lesson I’ve taken from that class which has had widespread applicability: look at the ACTUAL problem, in its actual context. Solving the problem may not even have to involve where you think the problem even is in the first place.
  • Rick Kovalcik @Ian exactly and that is why I generally distrust Marketing Departments and think Honeywell’s “Quality is Conformance to the Specifications” Program or whatever it was called was daft.
  • Jay Zipursky I thought this push was an attempt to find The One who can fix healthcare.gov.
  • Don Buddhika Hettiaratchy
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