Learning to code is like learning to ride a bicycle

So I finished the Web Development Immersive (WDI) course last week. But that doesn’t mean that I have stopped coding. I’m still continuing to work with my group mates on the final project. Why? Cos it’s for a good cause. And, more importantly, it’s really great fun working with my group mates!

Today, I went back to visit my instructor. He has already started teaching the next run of WDI. So poor thing… no rest at all. He asked a few of us to go back to talk to the new batch of students. Sort of like a… senior share our experiences with our juniors sort of thing.

In thinking about what would be useful to share with them, I came to realise that learning to code is very much like learning to ride a bicycle.

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What do I mean?

Try to recall the process of learning to ride a bicycle. Chances are, when you just started learning, you weren’t able to balance. You needed someone to either be behind you or by your side holding you. And even then, you would be unstable. There’ll be much wobbling.

And chances are, you would have fallen. You might have scraped an elbow or bruised a knew. If you had given up, you wouldn’t have ever learnt to ride. But you likely would have had someone pick you up, encourage you, continue to hold on to your bicycle.

But if that person kept holding on to your bicycle, then you would never have learnt to ride. That person would have to let go. But that person wouldn’t have just let go. That person probably would occasionally let go to see how well you are balancing. And tried to catch you again if you seemed like you are losing balance.

Then as you kept persevering, kept working on it, kept building up the momentum, then at some point in time, you would realise that you are actually cycling! The person there teaching you to cycle would have let go. And you are cycling! On your own! The wind will be blowing into your face, you are riding off into the sunset, into glory and triumph!

Then what happens next? That’s right. You fall. But did that stop you? Nope. You pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and you keep going. And that’s how you learnt to ride a bicycle.

Learning to code is just like that. Or at least my WDI experience was.

There was a lot of wobbling, stumbling and falling. There were moments that were absolutely pull-hair-out frustrating. Especially at the start. There were many moments of bruised egos. Then there were the times when I thought I’ve finally got it. And then I fall.

But Prima (our wonderful instructor!) and our teaching assistants (Angeline, Zhenjie and Junius!) would lift me up again, help me dust myself off, and get me going again. And little by little, they would let go so that I can get going on my own.

Have I mastered everything that I need to be a kick-ass developer? Hell no. I don’t think that’s what the WDI is about anyway. But just like how, after all the stumbles and falls, I managed to learn to ride a bicycle (at the ripe old age of 20), Prima and the TAs can let go. Because I think I have gained the skills to gain the knowledge, hone the craft, and (hopefully one day) master the art on my own.

So, if you have learnt how to ride a bicycle, chances are, you will be able to learn to code too!

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