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02/23/2004:

Learning... Programming... Basketball and Teddy Bears


If self study doesn't work, nothing will ever work!

Uhm. That I think is the first time I used ASCII 21 here in my blogs. (It's 21 because I'm using hex. It would be 33 in Decimal and 41 in Octal.)

OK... if you still haven't figured that out, it means it's the first time I used the exclamation point (!) character.

Anyway, this line just barfed out when I was arguing with my lovely programming student this evening. For those who know me from the previous place and are wondering if I have dived into the teaching profession once again... no I did not.

(I wanted to, really... I miss torturing students, but right now I don't have extra time.)

I'm just teaching someone to code... and if you're following this blog, you know who she is.

Programming is not taught. It is practiced. You do a lot of RTFM-in'. (If you don't know what RTFM is, RTFM.)

You should never expect the teacher to spoon feed things. Besides the spoon does not exist... nor the teacher. It is the drive, the passion that moves you to learn programming.

The curiousity that lies within the hacker's soul is your tool.

('Hacker'... in the proper sense of the word... and not the term the media has misused, twisted, sensationalized and abused for years already.)

Like every quest in this world, passion is one of the main things that drives and ignites you to move forward.

In a way, learning how to program is like learning how to play basketball.

You would never learn even if Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson would talk in front of you for 10 hours a day (for 12 months... for 100 years), teaching you the mechanics of things without you practicing it yourself, without you going out to hold the ball.

You will never learn basketball if you just hold the ball, aim and be contented. You have to perfect things... perfect the crossover move... the lay-up and if you're lucky enough, the slam dunk.



You must have passion... to do it every day... every hour if needed...

... until you can be proud of yourself, until you are effective.

Then you expand your court to the streets, meet new enemies and be clobbered, blocked and be humiliated in every sense. Sometimes you get kneed, elbowed and punched.

(Yes that's how basketball is played sometimes.)

But you learn. You learn the hard way. The harder the better.

You practice again... you face the opponent, conquer and move on to a bigger world.

Bigger challenges.

Of course there's a possibility that you get clobbered a thousand times before you can move on.

... which is good.

Because you'll never learn the game and be good at it if you play one on one with your neighbor's cuddly teddy bear.

You gain knowledge, you gain experience... you gain wisdom.


Wise enough to know that both a mighty dunk and simple shot scores two points in the statistics department. But wise enough too to know the difference between the two and when to use it.

But that my student would be another story for now.

I don't think I have to spoon feed what MJ, the ball, the passion, the learning process, the dunk, the teddy bear and every component in that metaphor symbolizes here.

More on this later... (I need to chop things, it's gettin long already.)


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