Monday, April 02, 2018

Is Computer Science Hard to Learn?

It’s been close to 45 years since I took my first computer science course. I really struggled with the first program. OK someone mostly wrote it for me. The third program we worked on together and the third I mostly wrote for the other person. People do seem to learn computer science at different rates. By now a lot of it seems easy. Programming in particular seems pretty easy.

It doesn’t seem to be so easy for students though.  Is it harder now or do I just not remember how hard it was when I started?  Does it take special motivation?

That’s just one thing I started thinking about while listening to Don Wettrick’s podcast with Doug Bergman and his students.

Doug Bergman: The Case for Computer Science in School’

Lots of good stuff in this podcast. Well worth the listen.


AndyNu said...

It depends on where you start. There are so many more languages, libraries, and environments now. It is easy to get yourself into a rabbit hole of containers and runtimes or frameworks upon frameworks before you get to the programming of the problem itself. On the flip side there are online environments where you can start immediately no setup required (e.g.

The core skill though of learning to model problems as data and logic is the same as it was 26 years ago when I started. And I think that mental modeling is the skill that continues to improve and is not easily turned off. This comes up most often for me when debugging. Walking back through the code to find where it disconnects from our expectations of its behavior only to find that they don't have any expectation. That's certainly one of the disconnects I've encountered with earlier learners.

Perhaps it is both. There are more opportunities for tangents and it is difficult to get into that beginner's mindset again.

Mike Zamansky said...

Well, if you listen to every after school, summer, and weekend program, it's all so easy.

Of course they just have to play with shiny toys for a short time while real teachers in the classrooms have to do the real work.