Tuesday, December 01, 2020

Why Do I care About This Program I am Coding?

Why do we program? Well, for some of us it is because we get paid to write code. For some it is part of our learning experiences. For a few it is the fun of it. There are a lot of motivations and they are different for different people. A couple of posts have been thinking about this lately.

Mike Zamansky has bee posting about the Advent of Code event. (Mike’s initial post here Advent of Code 2020)  Today I replied to his post about the first puzzle with the following.

I struggle with these problems a bit. Not because of the technical issues but because of motivation. Or perhaps relevance.  Why would I need to do this? What interesting or important problem does it solve? I guess the issue for me is that solving a problem for the sake of solving a problem, proving that I can did it basically, is not motivating to me. Maybe I have been programming too long to feel like I need to prove anything to myself. OR anyone else for that matter. I get that for some the challenge is enough motivation and that they get satisfaction from the effort. The journey being more important than the destination I guess. And that is fine and if people enjoy doing it that is wonderful. I'm happy for them. It just doesn't motivate me.

As I thought about it, this also related to a post by Mark Guzdial recently. Purpose-first programming: A programming learning approach for learners who care most about what code achieves: Katie Cunningham’s Defense I hope to be able to hear Katie’s defense tomorrow. And look up her papers.

When we as educators assign projects or do demos, what is the purpose of of the code? And does anyone care about it? Students work harder and longer, it seems to me, on projects that they care about. Not just for the grade though that motivates some. Do they want to see the program work for themselves? I always found that the hardest working most motivating projects were the ones students selected or decided upon on their own. Projects that solve problems that are meaningful for them are much more effective than projects that are more about “just do this to learn how this concept works.

I’ve been playing with code myself lately. Each project has taught me something but I was motivated more to solve a problems that was interesting to me than to learn the new concept/algorithm/language feature or what ever I learned. This is what we as educators need to bring to our students in my opinion. They have to care about the problem and not just the grade.

1 comment:

Mike Zamansky said...

I too hope to sit in on Katie's defense.

Bottom line is that different people are interested in and motivated by different things and at different times. It's why I hate it when people say classes should all do games or any other single theme.