I am usually quite good at picking up new things. Mostly because everything ‘new’ I see is usually related to something else I already know, thus I am merely extending something known with a method that is/was utilized by something else in my life and I am simply applying it in a new way. When it comes to learning something that is absolutely foreign, this gets much harder to do. Mind-state, level of difficulty, level of foreignness, previously relatable knowledge and enthusiasm all plays varying roles in how well something is accomplished.
Tonight I ran into some code learning that I just could not grasp (I’m sure this will happen frequently for about a year I suspect…). I finally gave in just staring at the online exercises and asked on the IRC channel. Those guys there are pretty damn awesome. Most are well aware that I am learning and simple do not give me the answer. They try to guide me to the right answers after checking the exercises. Most have either gone through them or are well aware of the website that I use (http://learnpythonthehardway.org).
They tried to give me some directions, some prods, one guy asked if I had learned a certain function yet (I hadn’t) and another suggested a function that is in a newer version of Python which I couldn’t use. One guy wrote out some code that mostly filled in the blanks, it was an almost complete answer (he was mildly chided for doing so and he will be more reserved next time and I am fine with that, so was he). It helped me get thinking in the right direction but was not complete.
Another guy sent me a pm (private message) with the exact answer. Once I saw it, then I completely understood. I lean best by examples and following those examples. I was close but needed to add in a bit of knowledge from a completely different exercise. Sure I didn’t figure it out on my own but once I saw, I really understood the function. To me, that is just as valid learning as figuring it out on my own. If I just took it, did it and ignored, then sure…it would a form of cheating. Yet since that did not happen and I ‘got it’, it’s completely valid 🙂
I can’t stress enough how awesome the #python channel users are and how helpful they have been so far. I’m pretty sure it’ll be a new online home for me 🙂