“Don’t be fooled by the blocks that I’ve got!”

Posted on 5th March 2020 by Mark Tiddy.

Way back in 2002 Jennifer Lopez told us to remember where we started as she sung ‘I’m still Jenny from the block’ and over the last few months as I’ve re-learnt HTML & CSS after nearly 15 years and started learning JavaScript I’ve come to believe that Jennifer’s advice is pretty essential for the programmer.

Whether you’ve learnt a programming language in the past and are revisiting it, learning a new language or learning to code having never coded before it’s important to remind yourself that there was a point where you knew nothing of the language you’re learning.

Let me explain why this is a helpful thing to remember…

Two years ago I purchased a Udemy course to learn how to create iOS apps and over the last couple of years have become increasingly more comfortable with Swift even creating a few of my own apps. I still need to Google how to do things and revisit some of the modules in that course but I’m comfortable enough to do that and know where to find (and understand) the solutions. There was, however, a time in that journey when even a basic concept such as a variable or function was new and difficult for me to understand.

Fast forward to learning JavaScript and I’ve found that I’ve whizzed through the basics of the language, finding that many of the concepts FreeCodeCamp and CodeAcademy are explaining to me are the same as in Swift, they just have a different syntax.

However, as I’ve dived into the server-side of JavaScript, packages and modules on the course I’m currently doing I’ve found that it’s been trickier to get my head around topics and that I’ll finish a module without feeling like I fully understand something and I need to remind myself that ‘that’s ok’.

If I could time travel and were to go back a couple of years and try to explain even the basics of JavaScript to my past self I know ‘past me’ would struggle to have a clue what I was talking about. Likewise, even looking back to some of my Swift course now I remember really struggling with APIs but now I feel like I’m more confident in making requests to APIs and dealing with the results.

So what’s my point?

My point is that whether you’re at the start of your coding journey, somewhere in the middle (like me) or a seasoned programme I suspect we need to remember Jennifer Lopez’s advice to remember where we came from.
If that concept feels tricky now then Google it to find out more, watch some YouTube videos on it, practice using it for some other projects, think about it whilst exercising or take a break but whatever you do remember that once you were clueless about concepts you now feel confident about and that as you persist with this new concept you’ll look back and wonder why you ever struggled to grasp it.

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© Mark Tiddy 2020