New Skill: Computer Programming

After taking a month off from new skills, I'm ready to get back at it.

Of course, since we just moved and I'm starting a new job, I'm not sure if I'll still be able to give a full 2.5 hours per week to this, besides still practicing my Spanish and my ukulele. We'll see.

Programmed for Success

I am not a tech guy. I have workable knowledge of social media and blogs. I don't crave (or know how to use) most new technologies.

We got our first DVD player in 2002, years after it was mainstream. When others were getting Blackberry phones, I got a Palm Pilot. I bought my first smartphone in 2011, and Joanna got hers in 2013. We still have never owned a flat-screen TV, or DVR. I wouldn't know how to hook up or use either one.

But this month, I want to improve my understanding of technology, though at the fundamental level. I will begin to learn some computer programming, or coding. (I think there is a difference in these two terms, but I have no idea what it is.)

I will begin by using the resources provided at I dabbled with this when it came out (last fall?), but will dedicate more time to it over the next couple of months. I'll start at the ground level, and work my way up. However far I get, that will be great.

Another thought (and this may justify the time I'll put into this): I may do this with my older son Elijah, who has already shown great interest and proficiency in programming. At a STEAM Camp in Allendale, he won a Sphero in a programming competition.

Why Is Programming Important?

Here's a sampling of what others think:

Issac Asimov (New York Times, 1964) (HT: 22 Words)
"The world of A.D. 2014 will have few routine jobs that cannot be done better by some machine than by any human being. Mankind will therefore have become largely a race of machine tenders. Schools will have to be oriented in this direction…. All the high-school students will be taught the fundamentals of computer technology, will become proficient in binary arithmetic, and will be trained to perfection in the use of the computer languages...." 

The website postulates that by 2020, there will be one million more computer science jobs than computer science students.

CGP Grey, with a combination of humor and intellect, makes THE BEST educational videos. So when he says computer programming should be a part of the standard school curriculum, I'm with him.

On this note, CGP Grey may be happy with these new high school graduation requirements in Texas, which allow the student to substitute computer programming for their language requirement.

Massachusetts is also putting programming in the curriculum. Note: the article has been archived, but the original article had this quote:
“Computer science is a natural outlet to exercise critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and it enhances mathematics, engineering and robotics,” Brehm said. “There’s also a shortage of people in the workforce who can code.”
Florida is leaning this way, too.

And running the risk of going on and on, here's some other interesting reading:

I don't know if I'll ever get a "coder's high" but I will at least giggle at jokes like this: 
There are 10 kinds of people in this world, those who understand binary, and those who don’t.  (Max Little, Mathematician, Aston University)

Additionally, my son and I can cement our claim to be White and Nerdy:


Why Am I Doing This Whole "New Skills" Thing?

Let's refresh. Of all the things that I could be doing with my time, why is it so important for me to learn new skills?

Of course there is the practical side: I hope that my new skills in Spanish, ukulele, computer programming, etc, will help me, or even better, help me to help others.

But even if I don't become proficient at any of these skills, the process of learning new skills is beneficial. Just as physical exercise builds and maintains muscle, continual learning keeps brain cells alive, and even changes those brain cells. And studies show that a hobby can make you more productive at work.

For more on this, read my intro post, 20 Hours to Learn Anything: It's a System, Not a Goal.

How about you? Do you plan on learning any new skills?

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