The Beginner Programmer’s Curse: Why learning to code is frustrating

You’re one week into your programming course, and it feels like you’ve already hit a skill ceiling. You’ve checked every line, you’ve been staring at the screen for an hour, and yes you’ve checked the damned semicolons. As if to mock you, the computer’s gone ahead and put a warning on the same line as the error, so you can’t even click both of them at the same time. what is computer science all about computer science course computer science requirements computer science subjects computer science definition computer science pdf

You give up trying to fix this yourself, and ask for help. Your friend looks at your code for two seconds and points her finger at a particular spot.

“There needs to be a closing bracket right here. Right now this else is inside theif.”

Of course. You just learnt about if-else statements. You’re supposed to know this stuff. You feel like an idiot. If I can’t even get the brackets right, maybe I’m not cut out to be a developer.

Frustrated, you reach over to close your laptop. what is computer science all about computer science course computer science requirements computer science subjects computer science definition computer science pdf

Stop.

It’s easy to blame yourself when you make very basic mistakes, but this is something every programmer goes through.

Like any other craft, programming has skill levels. However, programming is unique in how unforgiving it can be when you mess up.

Say you’re learning to paint. Learning to use the brush is a lower level skill than composition. But, once you get to a reasonable level of skill with the brush, you can start working on composition. Even if you mess up your brush technique a bit, it doesn’t stop you from practicing higher level skills. what is computer science all about computer science course computer science requirements computer science subjects computer science 

This is not how programming works, especially at the lower levels. You miss a bracket, you’re out. It doesn’t matter if you understood the logic, or you have a brilliant solution to the problem. Your program just stops dead in its tracks.

This is the beginner programmer’s curse: to become better, you need to practice writing code; but if you write imperfect code it may not even work. what is computer science all about computer science course computer science requirements computer science subjects computer science definition computer science pdf

So, what do we do? Well, getting good at any programming concept involves 3 different skills. You need to develop all three, and often what’s holding you back is that you haven’t paid enough attention to one of them.

We’re going to break down those 3 skills that you need to build to break through that skill ceiling you’re hitting.

Skill #1: Knowledge

This is the obvious one. You need to know and understand the concept you’re learning.

What’s an if statement? What’s a function? What’s a loop?

You’re smart, and you got this. Trouble is, programming is a skill, not a repository of knowledge.

Maybe you know what a butterfly stroke is. Maybe you’ve even watched the butterfly stroke event in the Olympics. But if that’s all you’ve got, I don’t think you should sign up for life guard duty at the local pool just yet.

You need to go beyond just knowing and understanding. There are two more skills you need to develop: what is computer science all about computer science course computer science requirements computer science subjects computer science definition computer science pdf

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