How To Think Like A Programmer

Coding Tech
26 Oct 201860:07
32 Likes 10 Comments

TLDRThe speaker discusses the challenges and misconceptions faced by beginners learning to code, emphasizing that programming is not about languages but understanding algorithms and data. They advocate for Python as a beginner-friendly language due to its simplicity and versatility, allowing new programmers to focus on learning programming concepts rather than syntax complexities. The speaker shares personal anecdotes and experiences to illustrate their points, making the talk relatable and engaging.

  • 🌟 Python is an excellent language for beginners due to its readability and simplicity.
  • πŸ” Learning to program is about understanding the problem you're trying to solve, not just the syntax of a language.
  • πŸ“ Start with algorithms and data structures rather than jumping straight into coding.
  • πŸ’‘ It's important to teach programming concepts in English first, before translating them into code.
  • πŸ”§ Debugging is a fundamental part of programming; embrace failure as a learning opportunity.
  • πŸ”„ While loops require careful planning to ensure they start, change, and end correctly.
  • πŸ“ˆ Comments in code are primarily for explaining the algorithm to the computer, not just for other programmers.
  • 🎯 Focus on teaching the core programming concepts that are universal across all languages.
  • πŸš€ The best way to debug code is to write it defensively to prevent bugs from creeping in.
  • 🎲 Programming is not about being the smartest, but about understanding how to communicate effectively with a computer.
  • πŸ› οΈ Real-world problems are often complex; starting with simpler, controlled problems can be more beneficial for beginners.
Q & A
  • What is the main topic of the discussion?

    -The main topic of the discussion is about how Python fits in for beginners in programming and the mindset required to learn programming effectively.

  • Why does the speaker mention his experience as a special ed teacher?

    -The speaker mentions his experience as a special ed teacher to highlight that his teaching approach in computer science was greatly influenced by his past experience, emphasizing the importance of understanding how to teach effectively.

  • What does the speaker believe is the hardest part of learning to program?

    -The speaker believes that the hardest part of learning to program is not trying to be as smart as the computer, but rather learning how to think as 'mind-numbingly stupid' as a computer, which means understanding and adapting to the computer's way of processing information.

  • Why does the speaker stress the importance of writing algorithms before writing code?

    -The speaker stresses the importance of writing algorithms before code to emphasize that understanding the problem and the logic to solve it is more critical than the actual syntax of the programming language. This approach helps beginners focus on the thought process and problem-solving before dealing with the complexities of coding.

  • What is the speaker's opinion on the common advice for beginners to start with a complex game like Tetris or learn a language like C++?

    -The speaker believes that starting with a complex game like Tetris or learning a language as complex as C++ is bad advice for beginners. It can lead to feelings of inadequacy and failure, which can discourage beginners from continuing their programming journey.

  • What does the speaker suggest is the best way to start learning programming?

    -The speaker suggests that the best way to start learning programming is by picking a problem you want to solve and focusing on understanding the concepts and algorithms needed to solve it, rather than jumping straight into coding or choosing a complex project.

  • Why does the speaker consider programming to be harder than teaching?

    -The speaker considers programming to be harder than teaching because it requires a deeper understanding of the subject matter and the ability to convey complex concepts in a way that is accessible to learners at various levels of experience.

  • What is the speaker's stance on the necessity of math for programming?

    -The speaker believes that math is not a necessary requirement for starting programming. While certain areas like data science and gaming may require advanced math, many programming tasks can be accomplished without extensive mathematical knowledge.

  • How does the speaker describe the relationship between programming languages and human languages?

    -The speaker describes programming languages as simpler and more consistent than human languages. While human languages can be complex and flexible, programming languages are designed to be more sensible and less prone to ambiguity, making them easier to learn and use for specific tasks.

  • What is the speaker's advice for overcoming failure in programming?

    -The speaker advises embracing failure as a natural part of the learning process. He emphasizes that failure provides opportunities for growth and improvement, and that maintaining a positive attitude towards failure is crucial in the programming field.

πŸ“ Introduction to Python for Beginners

The speaker begins by addressing the audience about the topic of discussion - Python's suitability for beginners. Despite acknowledging that many in the audience may not be beginners, the speaker emphasizes that even experienced programmers can benefit from revisiting foundational concepts. The speaker shares personal experiences as a former special education teacher and how that background has influenced their approach to teaching computer science. They stress the importance of understanding that programming is hard and that it's about learning to think like a computer, which involves a shift in mindset rather than simply being smart.

πŸš€ Overcoming the Fear of Programming

The speaker delves into the common fears and misconceptions that beginners have about programming. They discuss how the language of programming can be intimidating, and how the environment and community can sometimes exacerbate these fears through jargon and complex concepts. The speaker also touches on the issue of failure in learning programming, noting that many beginners are not used to failing and may be discouraged by it. They argue that much of the advice given to beginners is misguided and can lead to further confusion and frustration.

🧠 Misconceptions About Programming

The speaker addresses several myths about programming, such as the belief that programming is about memorizing codes or that it requires advanced mathematical skills. They argue that programming is more about understanding concepts and problem-solving than about the language itself. The speaker also discusses the importance of learning to think in a way that aligns with how computers process information, rather than focusing on the syntax of a particular programming language.

πŸ“‹ The Algorithmic Approach to Coding

The speaker emphasizes that programming is fundamentally about algorithms and data, not just the code itself. They advocate for an approach where beginners first learn to express algorithms in English before translating them into code. This method, according to the speaker, helps to internalize the logic and structure of programming without getting bogged down in the specifics of a programming language's syntax. The speaker also stresses the importance of understanding the problem you're trying to solve before jumping into coding.

πŸ’‘ The Role of Comments in Code

The speaker discusses the purpose of comments in code, noting that they are often misunderstood as a way to explain code to other programmers. Instead, the speaker argues that comments should be used to guide the programmer's own thought process and to communicate the intent of the code to the computer. They also share their philosophy on the importance of writing out algorithms before coding, and how this approach can lead to better programming practices.

πŸ› οΈ Essential Concepts in Programming

The speaker identifies the core concepts that are universal across all programming languages, such as variables, data types, and control structures. They explain that understanding these concepts is more important than knowing a specific language, as they form the basis of all programming. The speaker also shares their method of teaching programming by focusing on these concepts and how they apply across different languages, emphasizing the importance of learning to think algorithmically rather than linguistically.

πŸ“ Writing Algorithms Before Code

The speaker continues to advocate for the practice of writing algorithms in plain English before translating them into code. They provide a step-by-step guide on how to break down a problem into manageable parts and express these parts as algorithms. The speaker also discusses the importance of understanding the prerequisites for each programming action, such as having a variable ready to receive input from the user. They emphasize that this approach helps beginners to grasp the logic of programming before dealing with the complexities of a specific programming language.

🐍 The Beauty of Python

The speaker discusses the reasons for choosing Python as the language of instruction for beginners. They highlight Python's simplicity and readability, which allows beginners to focus on learning programming concepts rather than getting bogged down in language-specific syntax. The speaker also mentions Python's versatility, noting that it can be used for a wide range of applications from web development to game creation. They express their enthusiasm for teaching beginners with Python, as it enables learners to experience success and build confidence in their programming abilities.

The term 'beginners' refers to individuals who are new to programming and are in the initial stages of learning how to code. In the context of the video, the speaker emphasizes the importance of understanding that programming is hard for beginners and that failure is a natural part of the learning process. The speaker also discusses the common misconceptions and challenges faced by beginners, such as the fear of failing and the pressure to understand complex concepts quickly.
Python is a high-level, interpreted programming language known for its readability and ease of use, which makes it an excellent choice for beginners. The video highlights Python's role in the space for beginners, emphasizing how it simplifies the process of translating algorithms into working code. The speaker's preference for Python is based on its ability to 'get out of the way' and allow beginners to experience success early in their learning journey.
Algorithms are step-by-step procedures or formulas for solving problems. In the video, the speaker stresses that programming is not about languages but about the thought processes and algorithms behind solving problems. Understanding algorithms is crucial for beginners as it forms the basis of programming, regardless of the language used.
Debugging refers to the process of finding and fixing errors or bugs in code. The video emphasizes that debugging is a significant part of programming and that beginners should be taught to approach failure as an opportunity to learn and improve. The speaker shares various techniques for debugging, such as using tools, printing out variables, and understanding the problem space.
πŸ’‘Teaching Programming
The concept of teaching programming encompasses the methods and strategies used to educate individuals on the principles and practices of coding. In the video, the speaker, a seasoned computer science teacher, shares insights on effective teaching approaches, such as starting with algorithms rather than code, using plain English for algorithm development, and focusing on understanding the problem before jumping into coding.
Failure in the context of the video refers to the mistakes and setbacks that beginners often encounter when learning to program. The speaker views failure as an integral part of the learning process, encouraging beginners to embrace failure as a way to grow and improve their programming skills. The speaker also addresses the common fear of failure and how it can hinder learning.
πŸ’‘Learning Curve
The learning curve represents the progression of a person's skills over a period of time as they acquire new knowledge or abilities. In the video, the speaker discusses the steep learning curve associated with programming, acknowledging that it can be challenging for beginners but also emphasizing that persistence and the right teaching methods can lead to overcoming these challenges.
πŸ’‘Mind-Numbingly Stupid
The phrase 'mind-numbingly stupid' is used by the speaker to describe the mindset that programmers need to adopt when learning to code. It refers to the understanding that computers operate in very literal and specific ways, often lacking the ability to interpret complex or ambiguous instructions. Programmers must learn to think in a way that is direct and simple enough for computers to execute without error.
Variables are symbolic names for memory locations used to store data in a program. In the video, the speaker discusses variables as a fundamental concept in programming, explaining that understanding how to declare, name, and assign values to variables is a crucial skill for beginners. The speaker also touches on the importance of knowing the data type and initial value when creating a variable.
Comments in programming are annotations that provide explanations or descriptions about a section of code, which are ignored by the compiler or interpreter. The speaker argues that comments are not just for explaining code to other programmers but are also essential for the programmer's own understanding, especially when revisiting code after some time has passed.

Python's suitability for beginners is emphasized, highlighting its role in easing the transition from algorithm to code.

The importance of understanding the problem before jumping into coding is stressed, as it helps avoid unnecessary failures.

The speaker shares their background as a special ed teacher, drawing parallels between teaching strategies and programming education.

The concept of 'teaching back' is introduced, where explaining concepts to others reinforces one's own understanding.

The speaker argues that programming is not about being smart, but about thinking like a programmer and understanding the computer's perspective.

The idea that programming is hard but not impossible for anyone willing to learn is presented, with the speaker's own learning experiences as evidence.

The speaker criticizes the common advice of starting with complex languages like C++ for beginners, advocating for a moreεΎͺ序渐进 approach.

The importance of learning from failures in programming is highlighted, with the speaker encouraging a positive attitude towards mistakes.

The speaker emphasizes that programming is not about memorizing syntax or codes, but about understanding algorithms and data.

The concept of 'beginner advice' is introduced, where the speaker shares common misconceptions and bad advice he has encountered in programming forums.

The speaker discusses the importance of writing algorithms in English before converting them to code, which helps in clarifying the logic and understanding the problem.

The speaker's humorous approach to learning programming, such as using a shoe to represent a computer, is used to illustrate the simplicity of understanding programming concepts.

The speaker's teaching philosophy is shared, which involves focusing on the concepts rather than the language and ensuring that the students understand the problem before they start coding.

The speaker advocates for the use of Python due to its simplicity and readability, which allows beginners to focus on learning programming concepts rather than getting bogged down in complex syntax.

The speaker's love for teaching and learning is evident, as he expresses joy in seeing his students succeed and in his own continuous learning process.

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