Why I Don’t Code (Yet) And What I’m Doing About It [#52weeks]

I’m a Codecademy dropout.

If ever there were a year for me to learn how to code, last year was it. Every month, new startups aiming to teach the uninitiated how to code launched across the Internets. Each week, I got a polite email from Codecademy reminding me about the Code Year challenge that I took to learn coding during 2012. (I feel really, really bad for whoever had to monitor the open rates for that weekly email: ouch!) All of the MOOCs– Udacity, Coursera, MIT– offered some sort of intro to computer science or coding course at launch last year, and yet I completed nothing. In late July, I even found myself in the middle of pretty much every security engineer ever at a hacker convention in Las Vegas, surrounded by people behind some serious web shenanigans and fight for the future of the Internet as we know it. The enthusiasm and creativity– yes, y’all, engineers and hackers ARE creative– made its way back to the Silicon Valley with me, and I even made a pact with [dude] (he’s no more) that I’d work on Codecademy every day until I finished my Code Year challenge.

And yet… I still can’t don’t code.

Across the board, MOOCs, open courseware and open education resources suffer from low completion and adoption rates. Sure, some of the failures of MOOCs and free curriculum resources have to do with continuity and instructional design– What do you do after you’ve taken CS 101, and there’s no follow up curse? What happens when your MOOC falls apart?- but I’m sure as hell not going to jump on the bandwagon of haters, most of whom condemn the site entirely for its pedagogy, as if pedagogy were the only determinate element of education responsible for learning. (Hint: pedagogy isn’t everything.) Attrition rates in free educational opportunities aren’t a pedagogy problem, a marketing problem, or a community problem — they’re a passion problem.

When it comes to coding, I don’t have the passion and the dedication it would take to learn something that has at times frustrated me so very much. (Seriously, have you SEEN the things you have to do with punctuation marks to make code work?!) What am I going to do about my coding problem, then? Absolutely nothing.

I’ll just go find and learn something else to take its place. Or as [darling] would say, “On to the next one.”