She’s Going Against Code

, , , , , , , | Related | December 13, 2017

(I grew up in the DOS era — pre-Windows — and started programming with GW-BASIC when I was maybe twelve. As a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none hobbyist, I moved through QBasic, making video games for myself, then in college through Visual Basic and C++, as well as HTML, SQL, the text-adventure engine Squiffy, and game engines like RPG Maker, Game Maker, and Unreal Engine. As a lark, I learned ROM hacking enough to alter text and graphics in classic video games, and even, one summer, tried to learn Assembly Language. I was a programming tutor in college, and, after seeing the same problems crop up repeatedly, created a “Common Errors in Visual Basic” hand-out that got passed around by professors for a while. Now that I have nephews and nieces — six so far, ages 11-19 — I’ve been trying for several years now to get them interested enough in programming to actually work at it on their own steam, rather than by my prompting. I’ve gotten them to make little tiny starts on Game Maker, and two of them went to a robotics class that they really enjoyed. Now I’ve got a niece, age 11, and nephew, almost 14, working on Khan Academy’s “Hour of Code,” which teaches them the basics. My niece must have taken well to this activity, given that she just sits down next to me, as she is getting ready for bed, and offers up this cheerfully energetic advice:)

Niece: “You should learn how to code.”

Me: “…”

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