Week 4 – PAIN (and lots of fun).

Makers, Week 4.
Makers, Week 4.

Week 4 at Makers! You can see in this photograph that Ana the MA marketing wizard snapped of me, screens are a big deal. I took advantage of having two, plugging both into my Macbook for extra acreage. It’s useful now we’re quickly moving from working with a single page of code to a whole suite of controllers, models, feature tests, and an involved directory structure.

An interesting subject that came up this week in my conversations at Makers was pain in the learning process. Nobody likes to be in pain, even if it’s just the mental kind that you get when trying to fix an error you’ve never encountered before, yet it seems to be inescapable when getting to grips with something difficult and new.

It’s a controversial topic. Occasionally this week myself and many among the December cohort have felt out of depth, floundering in the unknown, and it seems to be a coach putting us in this position. “Aren’t they supposed to help you?” I hear you ask. Indeed, one reaction to this is to blame the coach for not fully explaining whatever the source of the frustration is. Another approach, which a lot of coders believe in, is to take pain as a sign (a sort of “code smell”, in the lingo) that your going about things the wrong way.

Though it’s true that if you’re fully driving your development with tests, making only incremental and necessary additions, and following all the SOLID, RESTful, (there are a lot of acronyms for good coding practices) decisions, frustration should be kept to a minimum. Stay zen! Factor out your emotions! These phrases are used a lot.

Even if it were so easy, is that really what we want? One coach, a graduate of Makers, made the point to me this past week though that if students don’t test the limits of their mental endurance while at Makers, they never will. At Makers we get to make mistakes, break things, get out of our depth, without really having to worry about the consequences.

Perhaps there are hidden dangers to playing it safe. I heard a story recently about Daniel Kish, President of World Access for the Blind, a man who has taught at least 500 children (as well as himself) to echolocate. In the anecdote, he persuades a blind boy who typically relies on other people for mobility to climb a tree. The boy hates it but Daniel keeps working on him, taking away the option of coming back down. Eventually the boy learns to climb trees and a great deal else too, but not without some pain along the way.

Alright enough musings, on to Fun Friday! Friday was fun for three main reasons:

1) My team and I won the first CodeJam. A coach organised “CodeJam”, a kind of rapid coding competition. Four teams of four had 15 minutes to solve code ‘katas’ – short problems designed to be repeated again and again for fluency. The time limit made it intense and we had some communication issues on the first problem which meant we didn’t quite get a solution in time.. but fortunately neither had any of the other teams. The second round we communicated a bit better and almost aced it, which was enough to go 2 for 0. No prize but lots of bragging rights, were that my style.

2) I presented at the first Makers Pecha Kucha of 2015. At 5pm Steve, a teacher at Makers, held a Pecha Kucha. My favourite presentation was by Canadian and fellow student Danielle, who introduced us to her far-flung hometown that I forget the name of. Mine was about Jeju-do, a beautiful island province of South Korea, and my residence until very recently. It was a great experience, though I felt that it was people already confident in public speaking who got up. Hopefully next time there will be more of a mix.

3) It was Friday!

Back on the subject of pain, next week we’re starting on JavaScript.

Week 4 – PAIN (and lots of fun).

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