Learning How to Learn

It occurred to me the other day that I’ve been learning programming for about a year now! Happy code-a-versary to me!

About a year ago I wanted to go deeper into data sciencey stuff at work. After reading a ton of DIY curriculum guides, it seemed that there was no way around it: I was going to have to learn to code, probably in Python. I’d used SQL a bit in my previous job, but it was a bit of a bore, to be honest.

In the past year I’ve tried learning so many different ways. At first I used online tutorials and taught myself on the job. That was slow goings, with small victories few and far between. However things really came together this spring when I took a Python class at the local community college. Hmm… it’s funny how much you get done when there are deadlines!

After my class I was able to do a lot more on my own, especially at work. Recently I got interested in web development, so I signed up for an intensive front-end web dev course. The class was 6:30 – 9:30pm, from Monday to Friday. I felt like I had no life for an entire month. I woke up early to get some exercise in. Every night I came home exhausted around ten. I had a beer, watched some tv, and went straight to bed. What time I had off on the weekends I spent catching up on cooking, cleaning and more studying. It was hectic and stressful.

And yet… I learned so much. I don’t regret taking the course, even with the *ahem* high fee and time commitment. Or maybe that’s just me rationalizing the expense since it’s too late. :) Now that I’m back on my own and without a set study program, I’m trying to figure out my next steps.  I thought that after trying all these different methods, I’d have a better idea of what was working… but not really.

A little googling turned up the VARK questionnaire, which claims to help you identify how you learn best. It looks like I am a read/write and kinesthetic learner. The other options are aural and visual learner, btw. Read/write is apparently good for traditional schooling, with note-taking and lots of reading and handouts. Ah, that’s why I like regular classes. Kinesthetic = learning by doing, which I was pretty much doing with my work projects.

So, I have way too many options for continued learning:

  • Real Life
    • Continue learning on the job slowly, project by project
    • Go to meetups and informal coding lessons. I’m always so tired after work, and also I’m nervous about going to meetups without knowing anybody there. So, this one will be hard. But being around like-minded people is such an encouraging boost.
    • Books- I don’t really own any relevant books, but I haven’t checked out the SF public library yet.
  •  Online
    • TreeHouse is a nice tutorial site, kind of like I lucked out a year or so ago and got a free lifetime membership ($25-50/month).
    • Working my way through this Udemy web dev course, which has 147.7K students. (OMG I need to make a Udemy course. That course is 200 bucks usually, but I got it for $10 with a coupon. Either way, this guy has gotta be a millionaire!)
    • Free Code Camp  One bonus of FCC- After you complete all of the lessons and projects, you get to work on portfolio-building projects for non-profits. Win-win!
    • Finish auditing the ever popular CS50x class.

It’s honestly really overwhelming, and why I seem to gravitate toward traditional classroom settings. Somebody just tell me what to do! For now, I’ll just be plodding along as usual… Whatever I do, time will pass. Might as well learn something, even if I’m unsure if I’m going about it the “right” way.