Coder advice

Discussion in 'Off Topic Chat' started by doobiedoobiedum, Dec 30, 2020.

  1. doobiedoobiedum

    doobiedoobiedum Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    Happy New Year in advance and here’s hoping for a much more normal 2021

    A question: hopefully @darkmagistric can answer this one for me and for my daughter as we are having quite a dispute... She does not want to write notes when she is planning and producing code for games and other Digital endeavours. I think as a 10-year-old who wants to develop her understanding of coding, she needs to plan ahead, record her tests, her ideas and her mistakes.

    We are at a bit of a stand-off, I want her to plan out her next game idea but she wants to get straight into coding and she is sitting there nodding and shaking her head as I dictate this note now on the iPad. Part of the problem is that she finds coding at school very limiting and boring and the aims are very low level - whereas at home, she can take more risk (in her opinion), just dive right into a computer program and try and do ambitious things, make mistakes and so on. However I want her to have a paper trail so that she can look back on mistakes and hopefully even learn from them - here, I’m using my experience of working with art students where I know that an art student needs to show mistakes, experiments, thoughts and processes to get better grades.

    So, should I just encourage her and let her carry on as she does (she’s nodding again) and discover for herself or should I try and encourage her to work in a way that I know schools will probably appreciate and give her credit for. (She is frowning at me here....)

    She has agreed to consider opinions of those who are already working in coding but I haven’t quite gotten her to agree to take your advice fully on board yet.
     
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  2. JoeS

    JoeS I'm all ears Senior Member

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    Maybe a compromise? Do one project with zero planning, and one project with advance planning and note taking, and then afterward talk about how it went and what the pros and cons of each approach are.

    Full disclosure, my last coding was in turbo Pascal in the eighties.. :D
     
  3. Marty

    Marty Pen Pro - Senior Member Senior Member

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    She gotta make the mistakes first, before she realizes the importance of documentation. We've all been there. ;)

    I think it is wonderful she is so eager to get her 'hands dirty' with the code. Just give her the warning, but don't block her. (And if there are bugs, she gotta hunt them all down.)

    Inspiration is like wind in a bottle, let her dive in!

    (Credentials: cut teeth in web development for IBM consulting)
     
  4. darkmagistric

    darkmagistric Pen Pro - Senior Member Senior Member

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    To preface, as a 30+ year old man who's only been studying code for a little over a single year now, I do feel a little hesitant to weight in on the coding habits of a 10 year old girl. Also, I'm not technically "working" in code yet, the post-bootcamp job search has been no where near as easy as I was led to believe it was( of which Covid had a hand in skewing.)

    I say, so long as she has the interest in coding and she enjoys it and continues to code, let her do as she wants. I feel a senior level developer would probably slap me for saying that, but learning code is all about understanding it and sometimes people learn in their own way.

    As far as leaving a papertrail to show and learn from mistakes, I feel Notes in this instance are somewhat unnecessary, because if there is a mistake in the code, the code won't work. All that will really matter is if she can figure out how to make it work, regardless if she can do it all in her head, or with a note breakdown, the end result of working code is all that matters.

    I feel she should def be leaving little markups within her code is she can't solve something right away (in CSS /* this div won't center */ or in Javascript // this function is not working, trouble shoot later , etc) but full on notes could even be counter productive.

    Like if you give me what would amount to 2-3 pages of pure Javascript code with no notes, and then the same code but with // Notes on every other line explain every single line of code, which would also inflate that 2-3 pages to 4-6 pages, I would have an easier time reading and understanding the note-less code. I've done some projects with starter Javascript files with an insane amount of ignored // Note code, and my first step is stripping all that out. There comes a point where you just need to let the code literally speak for itself.
     
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  5. doobiedoobiedum

    doobiedoobiedum Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    Wow!
    thank you all three, @JoeS @Marty @darkmagistric - we had a long discussion after reading all the amazing advice and Rosie especially wanted to say “Thank You!” to all for your time and answers.
    I can’t say we have a definite course of action but I / we now have strategies. I just want to keep her engaged and enjoying what she’s doing as long as she enjoys it. Her age group are at the stage (if you remember “Jessica’s story” from Toy Story 2?) that her best friends are discovering selfies and rabbit ear filters on social media and Rosie instead is getting her enjoyment from exploring code and making digital things happen.
    Whatever any child does or chooses, parents can only try and support / help and that’s what I’ll do. Your posts have really helped.
     
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  6. WillAdams

    WillAdams Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    I've known programmers who could think through a project, hold every aspect of every variable in their mind, and just write the entire thing out and have it work the first time --- they tend to be rather legendary and the stuff of folklore:

    https://www.cs.utah.edu/~elb/folklore/mel.html

    and

    https://www.quora.com/Who-is-the-best-programmer-of-our-time

    (there's another Quora answer where DEK enters a program via punch cards for a fellow student since he's faster --- every so often he would slow down and when asked why explained, "when I slow down I'm fixing the bugs in your program.")

    For my part, I've found that using the techniques of "Literate Programming" help me to write a better, more maintainable, more scalable program:

    http://literateprogramming.com/

    As a counterpoint, see:

    http://www.folklore.org/StoryView.py?story=Negative_2000_Lines_Of_Code.txt

    and I have to admit that these days, most of my programming is 3D objects where I start in BlockSCAD:

    https://willadams.gitbook.io/design-into-3d/3d-project

    and even if I'm doing something else, I start with Blockly.

    One of the best books I've found on the concepts of programming is "The Green Book", Glenn Reid's PostScript Language Program Design:

    https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3883749-postscript-language-program-design
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2020
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  7. jnjroach

    jnjroach Technology Strategist Super Moderator

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  8. violajack

    violajack Scribbler - Standard Member

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    She's 10, let her play around, muck stuff up, put it back together. She'll figure out what's important to her. Teach best practice when she's asking for help. It's not like she's putting together a portfolio for college admissions or job interviews anytime soon. My 8 year old is starting to get more into coding and we're using online classes. I get ads for iDTech all the time, and know a family who uses it, but they use Roblox and I'm not willing to let my 8 year old into that yet. He does classes through codewithus because they offer game design and modding through minecraft. There are like a million online kid coding classes now that everything is online. You can also find classes in just about everything at outschool. Sometimes the best way to teach your kid something they're reluctant to learn from you is to have someone else tell them.
     
  9. jnjroach

    jnjroach Technology Strategist Super Moderator

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    My son learned to program on Roblox back when he was 8 or 9 (He's almost 20 now) :)
     
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  10. doobiedoobiedum

    doobiedoobiedum Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    @WillAdams @jnjroach - thanks for the links and detailed responses, I’ll go through and glean what I can for her.
    I’m not a coder so I confess Rosie’s left me way behind with in this area; I have to read up and watch tutorials to try and help push her but she hates tutorials and just dives into code and the Apps to figure out what she wants to do. I’m way behind her on this so I’m just trying to find how to challenge her so thanks for the links.

    Don’t worry, I haven’t planned her career out for her. :) Her oldest brother started the same but is now a Comms Officer in the Royal Navy and the middle brother hated gaming and is now on his first year of a Chemistry Degree.

    That’s a trick I use all the time with art students, I’ve got quite a “back-catalogue” of contacts who will reinforce what I need to teach.
     
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