Coding, Scripting, Programming – whatever you call it, they’re fundamentally the same thing. Over time with our constant consumption of mass media, we’ve begun to view programming as this obscure skill that only the most intelligent people can master, while in reality, it’s something that’s not really that difficult.
So why learn to code? Why does it matter? Why should I care?
In short, coding is rapidly becoming one of the most essential skills of the 21st century, a century defined by its technological innovations and breakthroughs. Technology is becoming an integral part of other industries such as agriculture and medicine, and so it’s even more imperative that the youth become computer literate. One of the big reasons for learning how to code is that you can land yourself a high paying job, without even going to college! Whether it be a small start-up, freelancing, or working as part of a corporation, programming opens up doors and opportunities even for those who are self-taught. Even if your future job does not entail programming, I am sure programming is going used somewhere in your industry, being familiar with it will help you stand out. By understanding the basics of code, you will be able to understand both sides of the problem by understanding the occupational (or even real-life) challenges from an engineer’s point of view.
Even as a hobby, knowing how to code is a rewarding and enjoyable skill. If you’re the type of person who has a ton of ideas and just wants to start working on them immediately, coding is the skill for you. After a while it becomes addicting; the more you learn, the more you’ll want to program and practice. Personally, I have used programming to make a handful of games, a weather bot, and an encryption program to name a few. On top of being able to develop cool apps, by learning to program, you will develop many more life-long skills like creativity, perseverance, as well as logical and intrapersonal skills.
The most common excuses I hear when people tell me they don’t want to code are: “It’s just too hard!”, “That’s too complicated for me!”, and the worst one “I’m not smart enough!”. The truth is that programming comes down to problem-solving and logic skills, syntactically, coding is not difficult at all; many high-level programming languages even resemble English in their syntax. Many people begin coding with an “I can’t” mentality, and this mental block cuts them off from learning the right way and seeing the true beauty of code. Once we begin to move away from that and open ourselves up, it becomes much easier to consume the content and move forward.
Recently, I had begun teaching Python, a language regarded as the most beginner-friendly, to a friend of mine named Darryl. When Darryl and I first started, he would tell me that he wasn’t happy with his code and that he felt he wasn’t intelligent enough to code. I simply told him, “Don’t think, just code”. After that, he began eating up the content and excelled through the course. I would call Darryl to teach him only to find out that he had already understood and practiced the concepts for that day. He enjoys coding and we have collaborative sessions where we get to work together on our own little projects.
But now the question on your mind must be, “How do I do it?” or “Where do I begin?”
Think of coding as a language. Just look at Spanish, without learning it would obviously be overwhelming and trying to learn Spanish by purely studying vocabulary, syntax, and grammar is a futile attempt. In the same way, coding will be uncomfortable when starting off just like learning any new skill. However, with practice and enough failures, you may even start thinking in code with it being a second language.
The future begins with today.
We’ve attached some links that we believe are good learning resources:
W3 Schools – https://www.w3schools.com/
This is a free website that teaches programming for beginners. If you like to go at your own pace, are hands-on and prefer reading over watching a video, this is the site for you. A personal favorite of mine to start off with is Python due to its simplicity and similarity to English.
CodeWars – https://www.codewars.com/dashboard
This is a free website that gives programming challenges from beginners to experts. Practicing and failing is the best way to learn to code and with this website, you will do plenty of both; but that’s part of the process. You can pick the language you want to challenge yourself in and 8kyu problems are the easiest with 1kyu being the hardest. There is a steep learning curve so don’t give up too easily.
Udemy/Coursera/EdX – https://www.udemy.com/course/python-for-absolute-beginners-u/
All three of these websites will give certificates for course completion. That being said, all three of these have paid courses but all are well made and informative. They are generally structured with video lessons and assignments to make sure you are understanding the material. If you are a beginner, make sure you search for beginner level courses since most courses on these websites are meant for graduates looking to specialize.
CodingBat – https://www.codingbat.com/
CodingBat is another free website that has several challenges for both Python and Java. The website aims to help develop the right thinking and code efficiency while also helping you understand how to create simple algorithms.