Why People Can't Learn Programming on Their Own

August 14, 2018

While developing Codeup, we interviewed dozens of people who attempted to learn programming on their own. We wanted to delve into their experience to uncover lessons learned. We discovered the self-taught method was done with good intentions but the result was unfortunately failure. Here are some of the reasons it didn’t work out.1. Beginning pointOur interviewees really didn’t know where to start. The topic of technology is huge, so determining a beginning point was difficult. Most people don’t know what to learn first. One person told us she started with Java, a popular programming language. Although it’s widely used, it’s difficult to learn. I know because I wrote four books on it.2. Online resources suckComputers and online lessons stink at teaching anything complex. If you can’t understand a topic, your only option for clarification is to have the online resource explain it to you again the exact same way. That doesn’t work at advancing your knowledge. What is beneficial to your learning is having a live instructor understand your thought process so that he/she can customize the instruction for you. In programming, concepts build on one another. For each concept you learn, the preceding topic must be understood. If you’re missing a core concept, you won’t understand the next one.3. Lack of focusComputer programming is intense. We discovered that people lose their focus because the topic is not easily absorbed. It takes time to learn and practice programming, a big investment that some are not willing to make long-term. Some think they can learn it within a weekend or at night, but that approach only sets them up for failure. Another reason people lose their focus is because life gets in the way.4. Single mindedOne is a lonely number when you’re learning on your own. Lessons learned in solitude are not beneficial because there is only one perspective — yours. People get more out of instruction when they learn in groups – the one thing the current education system gets right. Peers within groups motivate others to perform better. Having individuals as part of a group instantly creates a community where everyone is traveling the same journey.5. Reasons to learnFor most people, learning programming had no clear endpoint. They had difficulty envisioning life after the lesson. Do I really get a job? Am I building something meaningful? Having invested a lot of time and energy on programming, people started to question “Why am I doing this?”The Codeup model addresses these issues in a learning system we’ve developed into a single, intense 9-week boot camp with live instructors. Students finish with a Hiring Day where they demonstrate a live, production-ready application to show prospective employers.We want to teach you about programming, so you can put this skill to work to improve your life and those of others. Are you ready to step into the future?