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Adepegba Henry
Adepegba Henry

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CLASS TEACHER TURNED PROGRAMMER :What Coding taught me about learning.

Early this year, I made the decision to learn coding and it changed my perspective about learning. I had been a teacher for two years and taught various subjects ranging from Mathematics to Physics and even Biology and Basic Science, I taught both at junior and senior levels of High School / Secondary Education.
However, I decided to switch careers to programming (a completely different field) and that meant I was going to commit myself to much learning about this field, more like getting tablets of what I had been giving to my students. Now, for me my tutorial center were online videos, Frontend Masters boot camps videos, YouTube videos etc. At first, I didn’t know how to start and I felt somewhat embarrassed, I mean how will I go about this? Should I just download videos and keep watching? Do I need to look for a book and write everything said in the video? How will I remember everything I’ve been taught? And how will I know that I really know this thing if all I do is just watching tutorials? It occurred to me that learning is not that easy, and that’s where my first lesson in learning programming came from:

Stay close to someone that knows
what you want to learn experientially: No one is self-taught, the idea that you can know everything all by yourself is an illusion, you can self-learn, i.e. no physical teacher, as it were, meaning the responsibilities of learning are primarily on you unlike the school system where the primary responsibility of your learning is on the teachers teaching you, but you cannot be self-taught. Simply put, you cannot teach yourself what you did not know, someone will have to teach you. So, in switching careers, do you have someone you can easily call to ask questions? I have a friend like that. Seun is a back-end developer, and here am I starting my web developer career, he definitely knows better, so I am always talking to Seun (I still talked with him this morning), I could watch a You tube video, get confused and trying it back and forth, then a call to Seun and I’m relieved, It is easier to lose momentum and your drive reduced if you don’t have someone like that. So, always find yourself among people that knows, join Dev groups, read what people discuss, even if you don’t know everything they are saying, the discussions still give you the motivation to move on.

Patience: Personally, I believe it is paradoxical to say ‘Impatient Programmer’ Coding is spelt patience, don’t expect to know things within the twinkle of an eye, and don’t blame yourself for taking too long to understand a particular concept. Learning is impossible without patience, especially coding, you have to follow the steps one after the other, patience will require you to be sincere with yourself, this implies that you won’t fake that you already know something when you are yet to fully understand the concept behind its operation, there is always the temptation to arrive early just to quickly make a point that you are doing well in what you are learning , but trust me following the process thoroughly is a huge indication that you are already doing well, that patience is needed, don’t be in a rush! I remember I told Seun, I want to start learning frameworks of JavaScript, vue.js, when I’m yet to have a mastery of Vanilla JavaScript, he told me to just have a mastery of Vanilla JS first, and this is applicable to other areas of learning, this does not discourage multiple learning though, but there are some basic things to learn before you proceed to others, don’t skip the basics.

Consistency: Learn every day! Or as in my case, Code every day! This learning is not restricted to the hours you dedicate strictly for learning, you can be in the toilet and be reading articles about JavaScript, in fact that method works, learn seriously in unserious environments, it cools the tension, it ensures consistency too, a you tube video while you are in the toilet is not bad, an article while eating won’t do much harm to your eating etiquette, a podcast while on the bus is not a bad idea, be consistent at what you are learning. One major element of learning is your drive, and your drive is fueled by your consistency, once it becomes a ‘once-in-a-while ting for you, the drive starts getting reduced and you are prone to getting tired of the whole thing and question why you had to pick up this area of learning in the first place, so be consistent at what you do. Don’t just read articles or watch videos alone, make sure you are consistent with doing what you have watched or read yourself, this will help you know your level of learning, don’t just watch and say “Oh, I get that, I can do that for sure” make sure you do it, like do it yourself, stop the video and practice what you have seen. Be consistent with learning!

Don’t lose your Curiosity: Naval Ravikant says “Genuine learning is impossible without curiosity”. Now, I believe what led you to choosing whatever you want to learn must have been your curiosity about it, don’t lose your curiosity as you start getting exposed to the intricacies of what you are learning, Steve Jobs while addressing a group of students I believe said to them , “Stay Foolish, Stay Hungry’. You need this at all times, it’s not only for when you are starting out only, stay hungry enough to fill your appetite to know more, stay foolish enough to gain more knowledge, don’t come a point where everything seems like a child’s play to you. Stay in the wonder of the field you have chosen at all times. Remain curios and let it drive you to learn, ask questions, read articles, you tried something and it didn’t work, read up about it, don’t just watch how they did it, read up to know why they did what they did to solve the problem, so when it comes up another time, you can replicate or even tweak it solve another problem.
Stay Positive: There will be so many negativities that will surround you, you will almost doubt yourself, or even doubt yourself at some point, you might even feel you are not cut out for this at some point, If you are a Nigerian, like I am, certain factors will even make you wonder what’s happening to you, you might be in the middle of a YouTube video and data gets exhausted, or light goes off, and you can’t find fuel to buy for your generator, don’t give up, at that point, you can resort to meditating about what you’ve learnt, (lol), yeah, funny as it sounds, it works, don’t retire your thoughts from learning, if physical factors deprive you of that at one point or the other, believe in yourself, and you will become the expert you yearn to be.

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