Learning is Hard

In the summer between my junior and senior years of high school, I found some tutorials online and taught myself HTML. I did this because I wanted to build a website wherefor to share my terribly important adolescent thoughts, and I thought double rollover menus were really cool. My successful application for my first job probably owed as much to knowing HTML as my undergraduate degree in Journalism.

I recently went through some Javascript tutorials on Codeacademy, and it’s a wonderful way to learn how to code. I’ve gained enough experience with JS over the years to tweak existing code and even do some debugging, but I’ve never had a grounding in the basics. Why did I resist taking this obvious step for so long? Because, like many people, and despite learning one programming language already, I considered the process of learning too difficult.

This sentiment seems related to the common refrain of “I’m not a math person.” Like math, coding requires precision, attention to detail, and old-fashioned memorization. Like math, it ruthlessly indicates failure. Like math, learning is often an exercise in boredom and frustration, which are unpleasant feelings that people desperately want to avoid. Avoidance is generally possible in abstractly labeling ourselves as a type, and also in softer subjects, where we are hesitant to judge harshly.

Learning is hard, whether its an instrument, a subject or a language. Still, it’s worth discovering (and remembering) that it’s possible.

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