If you had told me this time last year I would be excited to be learning Python I would have responded ‘you must be mistaken, I’m no parselmouth!’
— Shout out to all the Harry Potter fans out there who got that reference*.
Oh, how times have changed.
As I am beginning to learn to program I see the Python programming language as the key.
I want to share some things that have been helping me in staying motivated to learn to program with the Udacity Intro to programming nanodegree during the Python course.
What’s that image? “Both shamans and molecular biologists agree that there is a hidden unity under the surface of life’s diversity; both associate this unity with the double helix shape (or two entwined serpents, a twisted ladder, a spiral staircase, two vines wrapped around each other); both consider that one must deal with this level of reality in order to heal.” — Jeremy Narby
So what is this Python programming language?
For those of you not familiar with computer programming, I will explain it to my understanding.
Python is a high-level, free to use, a programming language designed to be easy to read and implement.
You can use Python to get a computer to perform different functions, including calculations. It also has several 2D and 3D imaging libraries you can use. This allows you to build plug-ins and web applications using Python.
Furthermore, it is with Python I will write the machine learning algorithms I will use to complete my mission and define “success”!
What is the Introduction to Programming Nanodegree Python course like for students?
So far the Python course teachers have focused on teaching some of the basics of computer science.
I have enjoyed building up more foundational knowledge of programming; it makes me feel like less of an imposter.
My favorite part is the video showing Grace Hopper, a pioneer of computer programming. She invented one of the first compiler related tools (wiki link). In the clip, she is interviewed by David Letterman. You can check it out here.
Getting started with Python
I’ve been finding learning python quite challenging. It’s very different from learning HTML and is more technical.
You are writing functions and commands for the computer as opposed to changing visible aspects of the front end experience. Without the visuals, it is often harder to understand where you are going wrong.
The instructors take you through things step-by-step, but I have found that sometimes the background explanation of how the Python programming language and it works is missing.
My motivation to push through and learn to program recently hit an all-time low.
Traditionally this low level of motivation would have sent me directly into a self-deprecating guilt spiral. This time, however, I’ve decided to try this new thing where I don’t punish myself for taking it easy for a few weeks. Being kind to myself has been great in helping me to preserve my happiness.
I think it’s working, I’m still doing little bits here and there, but I don’t feel guilty about not putting in the recommended 10 hours per week. As a result, I’m not feeling the same level of resentment in completing the course as I have when learning other things (like Spanish for example).
Staying motivated to learn to program
I don’t know about you, but my life is pretty busy.
In between work, keeping (relatively) fit, seeing my friends, maintaining my relationship, watering my houseplants, living up to my family’s expectations on an amount of contact and watching all my favorite shows on Netflix before the dreaded spoilers…
I feel like I don’t have that much spare time for following my dreams, especially learning Python.
As a result, and especially when the learning Python is seeming increasingly tricky, I’ve been finding it hard to stay motivated to learn to program. Let alone staying on schedule with the course!
I’m now getting through this demotivated stage and can see the light of re-energization coming close. However, just in case you’re feeling the pain right now I’ve listed three recent TED talks below that have helped me through the dark hours and inspired me to keep going:
And this one that motivated me when I was learning Spanish:
Let’s get going again!
Now we’re feeling all pumped up, back to work! I’m off to learn to program!
How are you staying motivated to learn to program? Are you learning Python? Have you got a preferred Python course? Don’t forget to comment below and share your thoughts. Or you can subscribe to the mailing list to keep in touch.
Ready for the next instalment on learning python? Check it out here
*On further reflection, I do think it would be pretty cool to be able to speak Python and to pythons. Unfortunately, the latter is not covered in this course. Oh well — on we go!