Learning to Code Should Not Be a New Year’s Resolution January 7, 2012Posted by Peter Varhol in Software development.
I was surprised last week to see a post from mine a month earlier suddenly generate a lot of traffic. It was the post on learning to code, and the vast majority of the traffic came through searching.
I discovered the next day that the proximate cause of this traffic was the announcement by Codecademy of Codeyear, a resolution to learn how to code in 2012. By signing up, Codecademy will send you weekly interactive lessons on learning programming.
This publicity has caused me to rethink the position I stated back in November. That position was that you didn’t learn programming on a lark. It’s a difficult skill, akin in many ways to learning a foreign language but also in some ways more difficult, and one that Michael Bloomberg is probably not going to pick up over the next twelve months.
Was I wrong?
Sorry, I still don’t buy it.
I’m not a fan of New Year’s resolutions in general. If you need the turning of the calendar to resolve to change your life in some way, you’re probably not going to make very much progress.
But I stand by my original statement. Despite the really impressive advances in programming techniques, it’s a skill that requires dedication, practice, and purpose behind it. You don’t learn to code to become a better human being. And while acquiring that skill may provide a keen appreciation of programming and computing, or make you a better human being, I kind of doubt it.
On the other hand, if you’re already a programmer looking to broaden your skill set, this may be worthwhile. If you work in IT in some capacity and see a career path into programming, this may help (but isn’t the complete answer).
But it’s not going to make you a programmer, or even technical in any sense. It won’t help you get a job as a programmer.
I speak from some experience. I began my higher education with two degrees in psychology, prior to pursuing first applied math, then computer science. Even with this background, in the heated tech job market of the late 1980s in the Boston area, it took me a long time to find a relevant job. One online course just isn’t going to do it.
Well, I’ve had my say. Sign up if you want.