Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Learning Python painlessly

I have tried to learn programming before, and it hurt my brain. OK so I was trying to learn Java, and that hurts a lot of people's brains.

The problem with most programming courses is that they assume three things:
  • that you already know how to program in another language
  • that you have an A-level in maths or even a degree in computer science
  • that your primary mode of intelligence is mathematical-logical
My primary mode of intelligence is linguistic. I can do maths, but logic is not my strong point, and neither is solving a problem by breaking it down into steps. I see problems as an overview, and solve them more intuitively and heuristically than incrementally or algorithmically.

I can do HTML, CSS, XML, XSLT and XSD because they are ontological / taxonomical, with nested hierarchies of information, and semantic labels. This makes sense to me. They are more linguistically-oriented. Similarly, I am good at information architecture because it involves taxonomical and linguistic skills. But I've never been able to get my head around programming.

So, imagine my joy when I discovered a site that helps people like me to learn to program in Python. It doesn't assume any of the three things I listed above. And its major exercise is designing a game, whose parameters are largely linguistic. It takes you very very gently through the building blocks of Python. And the author has a great sense of humour.

Thank you so much, Zed Shaw. You have helped me to overcome a major mental block.

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