the things I believe about learning to code (again)

This “learning to code” thing is turning into a meme. Or is a meme. Or something.

In January, I wrote Thoughts on Code Year, Codecademy, and Learning to Code because I have a visceral reaction to “hey! everyone code!” and it’s not a good one…despite the facts that I sell a lot of books that provide some foundation for learning some things about some programming and markup languages (that last sentence is accurate enough to appease all the people who think books like mine, and especially mine, suck).

I’m just going to restate this: everyone who wants to should learn to code. But they also damn well better know why — there has to be some goal besides “I want to be able to print ‘hello world’ in seven different languages” or “I heard if I do this free course, I’ll make a million bucks.”

And if people want to learn to code so as to set themselves on a path to becoming a professional or an expert, then they also need to understand that any book (mine included), website, webinar, badge system, or anything else that isn’t actually working in some apprentice craftsman type of environment is just one teeny tiny step along the path. And note I didn’t say “forward” because sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes books, websites, webinars, badge systems, etc are lateral or backwards moves.

Blah blah blah.

And go read what Jeff Atwood has to say, because it’s smart and true, and honestly? It’s a heck of a lot like what educators have been saying about all this—that would be “educators”, not “Codecademy and Codecademy-knock off creators”.

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3 Comments on “the things I believe about learning to code (again)

  1. Hi Julie, I totally agree with your comments about CodeCademy and learning to code from this and your previous post. I think CodeCademy and other sites are a great idea but definitely lacking in pedagogy.

    So I decided to have a go at creating my own… with a goal of being way more effective (and pedagogically sound) and fun ESPECIALLY for the absolute beginners. I am also targeting high school students. My site is Just went live last month.

    If you get the chance to try it out I would love feedback from someone like you who is an expert in this area.

  2. Sorry, but I see no difference in your site and others (besides I’m surprised you haven’t been sued for copyright infringement) in terms of lack of attention to pedagogy.

  3. Thanks for checking out the site. Oh, well… can’t say I didn’t try (attention to pedagogy) back to the drawing board! I would love to here what site you think is the best (of the worst??) online programming tutorial for novices you have come across.

    Also, which CodeAdventure (note the name change to avoid being sued by Marvel) task did you complete? Thanks again for your time!!

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