Why Academia Needs to Get Better at Teaching Programming

(A person can dream..)Academia is a frustrating, hair-wrenching, awkward as hell, and occasionally wonderful place. For all the innovations it produced, teaching must continue to be one of them. Here are some suggestions I have to make a classroom a better environment to learn coding:1. Teach students the importance of learning programming fundamentals. If a student just wants to skip the boring stuff and “make art”, be honest with them about the long road ahead.2. Concentrate on get something working first, no matter how verbose, before worrying about efficiency.3. Discourage copying and pasting.4. Let them know about all the amazing resources outside of the classroom for learning to code. Stack Overflow is a necessary part of any programmer’s life, and half the battle with coding is learning how to ask the right questions. Making an account and figuring out how to write questions has really helped me on my journey. In addition, there are a lot more fun and beginner-friendly resources out there. For instance, I really enjoy The Coding Train.5. Above all, concentrate on programming in the vanilla language before moving onto more abstract libraries. In my opinion, learning how Fizz Buzz works is infinitely more important than starting out with something a bit more sexy. And it still is the most common weed out question for programmers, so why not get it out of the way now?6. Sorry, this is a bonus. Coding isn’t for everyone. In fact, I disliked it for quite a while. If it wasn’t for a couple of amazing instructors, I probably would be struggling a lot more than I currently am. A lot of the problem was that I had no idea what was going on, I didn’t think it was creative, and I didn’t know I could combine it with my other interests. I literally thought that by learning to code, I would get sucked into the void and abandon my identity as a writer/journalist/actual human being. But it only takes one talented teacher to convince someone otherwise ;)For some great examples of data visualization, visit http://pudding.cool or check out this article.. More details

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