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How did you break through your own barriers to finally learn programming?

My SO is constantly complaining that we don’t have enough money. I make a decent amount as a full-time dev at a large company, but we live in an expensive city and are currently going through a time of few funds.

He started driving delivery food orders, he likes it okay, but it pays very little. He still complains about money.

I want him to learn JavaScript.

He was once asked to make a website for a company he’s involved in. He only used SquareSpace, but he was never satisfied with their stock code. He went digging for JavaScript snippets he could use, and he made one of the most beautiful and responsive websites I’ve seen.

Since then, I’ve been encouraging him to learn JavaScript. I’m trying to convince him it will be a great source of additional income, he can make his own schedule while doing contract work, and he can ask me anything he wants while he’s learning. How many beginners have someone they can ask anything of, at any time?

He doesn’t want to learn. He doesn’t think he is capable. I remember this feeling before I learned to code. A chunk of someone else’s JS does look genuinely terrifying if you don’t know what it means. I want him to give it one honest try before he decides it’s “not for him,” but he isn’t open to it enough to try.

What can I do to help him understand he is capable? He’s in his mid-30s and insists he’s too old to catch up. He’s smart, detail-oriented, and I know he would write code that’s a million times cleaner than mine. He absolutely has a programmer inside of him, and I want to encourage him to simply try.

Is there something I can to do introduce JS in a non-threatening way? Or should I just accept his refusal and let it go? Thanks for any advice.

Comments
  • 8
    console.info( getMeaning( "SO" ) );
  • 6
    @PonySlaystation @“Significant Other”;
  • 2
    Well if he's unsure of his capabilities, how about enticing him with a (reasonably current) quiz about javascript? Or a list of interview questions a frontend dev would get. Examples of real-world problems maybe. Sounds like he's got the right attitude about coding already, just needs to get over that first scary self-deprecating hurdle.
  • 6
    @BrokeTheInteger he definetly is not to old, my trainee is 40 and is doing great.
    Do with him pair programming (but you shouldn't write any code, this probably will scare him). But always look over his shoulder and ask him what the task is and what he has to do, to solve that (ask these questions over and over again)
    And the task you give him should be something simple. (don't show him any frameworks/libraries at the beginning, just plain js)

    At least that's the way I did it, this way he doesn't feel to overwhelmed. Which would feed his fear of not being capable. And don't pressure him with 'i\'m sure you can do it' better try, 'how about trying it, maybe you\'ll like it'.
  • 9
    First to old to learn is just a state of mind unless you have medical problems. When I was teaching msdos and Basic in the 80:s my oldest student was 81 years old with the attitude, its the future, I need to know this ;)

    If an 81 year old could learn to program 30 years ago he should be able today :D

    So its actually all about attitude and motivation.
  • 5
    It’s so cool you believe in your guy - this alone makes his chance of winning at this higher.

    I’d be feeling the pressure to make this coding thing pay next week. You might need to figure out how to ease pressure. 4 months to ship a site when he is starting off is not bad. With time, coding will grow to be his main gig. But he has to start small. No pressure.

    Something else to think about. As a dude, he maybe resistant to “good ideas” presented in an obvious way. You kinda have to let him come to the idea organically, otherwise it will be dismissed. So perhaps figure out a way to get him on a small project indirectly.

    Finally, building tools is better than building complete sites. You can get away with ugly code. And be done quickly.
  • 5
    Here's one of my experience:
    I recently had to teach a junior developer about a new framework. Lets call this guy Jerry. Now Jerry was relatively new to the software field and this would be his very first project that he will be working on. Also, this was my first time teaching someone software's and stuff.

    I started off very badly explaining him technical stuffs that went over his head. Later I realised there should be a better way to teach and thought of giving him assignments. Now these assignments were based on stuffs that I learnt from my experience. The type of assignments that made sense. For example I would explain to him on how to create a button, a text field and a label, then I would teach on how to link the three to serve a purpose, later an assignment was given related to the topic. This went on till I covered most of the topics present in the framework. And at the end I gave him an assignment to create an app that covered whatever I taught him from the beginning.

    I was surprised on how effective this approach was, Jerry would surprise me sometimes by adding his own creative touch, like learning how to give shadows to a view, or make something look more appealing. Nowadays he's pretty comfortable with his work and now I wish I was taught the same way instead of learning all by myself.

    I would suggest you to sit besides your SO and teach him stuffs that are simple to grasp on to, later give him some fun assignments to work on with your personal touch in it. At the end combine everything that he has learnt to create an app, site etc.

    Well that's one of the things that I learnt from teaching others. I'm sure others can chime in with better suggestions. All the best :)
  • 1
    Tell him to try freecodecamp🙂
  • 2
    There was a "programming" game on kickstarter not long ago: https://kickstarter.com/projects/... maybe you could find something similar. Otherwise, gift him some lego stuff for christmas. The ones with motors and shit that you can program (or something similar)
  • 2
    I would have him read this post you've just written. If even this doesn't get anything moving inside him, I don't know what to tell you...
  • 2
    Maybe start a JavaScript based game/application as a hobby project and ask him to help out on small things at first. Over time, slowly increase the complexity of the tasks, depending on how fast he learns.

    The idea is to get him to design and code most of the application with little or no help from you. Once an initial version is ready, you can show him the completed product, and point out that most of it was a built by him on his own with minimum assistance from you. This should probably give him confidence in his capabilities.
  • 1
    It can be very challenging to convince someone that they are better than they think they are, especially when they are so deeply set in the whole "I can't do this" mentality.

    As some of the peeps above have already alluded do, perhaps throwing some challenges his way might help build up his confidence? You could set them with a goal of building something the two of you might use, or search around for some coding challenges online (codeingame.com might be a fun start).

    Failing that, see what happens when you stop telling him to dev altogether. As a neanderthal myself I have to fight the urge to do the complete opposite of what people tell me to do a lot of the time! No idea what it is about us dudes, so many of us can't stand being told what to do... but I guess that's a discussion for another site.

    #stubborn_old_men
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    Show him that javascript doesn't have to be difficult.

    You can start with node interactive mode and type `1+1`. Ask him whether he able to guess the output anytime you wrote something. Gradually increase the difficulty level. Give him rewards whenever he guess correctly.

    I guess in a week or two (if he is a beginner) he will be able to understand `if` and `for`.

    Start and progress slowly, don't suddenly jump into `callback` and `promise`.
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  • 0
    Just get him a beginner's book and show him your post! I tried to learn several time before I really got it (started at 9 and could only copy existing code).

    Alertantively you could bribe him with some of his fantasies or you could with hold sex. Pretty effective motivators if you ask me ;-)
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  • 0
    The only thing I would add to this conversation is that it's also really easy to get used to a higher income. You'll grab a slightly better looking tomato in the supermarket, take the 4k Netflix, spend a few hundred more on a laptop, go to a nicer gym, etc.

    Of course he should move up the ladder, but not just for the money. It should be about terrible but true cliches like self-fulfillment and challenge.

    There are probably people in your city living on less, and doing fine. They gave up (or never had) the luxuries most people deem necessary.

    I calculated that I spent €279 on coffees last month. It's super easy to not notice.

    I'm not saying you should go live on noodles, cancel all subscriptions and never visit a cinema, but without critically examining spending patterns you'll always feel like the budget is a bit tight.
  • 0
    He's a good age where if he learns a bit and does contract work for a year or two he can get the resume creds to possibly do something more in management or more senior work. No one really has to know you just learned something at 35, when your 40ish and up people just kind of assume your well seasoned at whatever it is you know.
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