Should I learn how to code?

October 12, 2016   

I’m pretty sure that there are other people like me who like building things and would rather do that instead of whatever work they are involved in that they aren’t fit for. On the other hand, I have the impression that many people think that learning how to code is difficult and only for the mathematically capable (this was me in the past). But in my personal experience and looking at other examples as well, despite the common image of whiz kid programmers (think Mark Zuckerburg in Social Network), coding isn’t that difficult to learn. And it certainly doesn’t require high levels of computational skills, at least to start out.

There are so many free online resources that anyone can use to learn the basics of programming. There are also many wonderful paid resources to dive deeper. I really enjoy teaching people how to code because I sincerely believe that it’s a skill/hobby that is not only a viable career option, but is also fun.

Should I learn how to code?

With that being said, I don’t think everyone should be a programmer, nor should they be forced to be. Learning how to code is a good thing, but it doesn’t mean that everyone should necessarily pursue a career in programming.

There tends to be a lot of articles suggesting that everyone should learn how to code. Education is moving towards the direction of making it mandatory for students to learn programming from a young age as well. This is a great thing in that it will certainly open a lot of doors for a lot of people. However, I’m skeptical on whether most of the classes on programming that these students will enroll in will teach programming in a way that excites them. Sure, they can learn basic syntax and (be forced to) build some simple games, but will it be something that excites students? Or will it have an unfortunate effect of giving them a false impression that programming is boring and lead potential programmers to shy away from it?

I also think that even if one tries to force him/herself into becoming a programmer, I don’t think it really works that way. You either like it and you spend lots of time doing it, and therefore become a good programmer, or you either don’t like it and leave it.

That’s why I think it’s crucial to teach in a way that excites and motivates students to actually build things, instead of worrying about the complicated theoretical matters that may be involved with programming. I believe that the more the indiviual likes to program intrinsically, the better the individual will become at programming.

Learning how to program is a lifelong pursuit; like any thing that involve various elements, programming is easy to learn, but hard to master. However, although I certainly can’t say that I have mastered programming in any way, I can say with confidence that the small rewards of pursuing mastery is extremely worthwhile.