I have a major issue with trying to learn a computer programming language these days, and its not that I don’t particularly get what they are trying to communicate. Its just that they are doing it wrong!
What do I mean by they are doing it wrong? Well lets take for starters the SAMS Teach yourself the C# Language in 21 days book that I am currently going through. It states that is aimed at beginners who have never touched another language. I’m currently up to only Day 6 of the book and already I can tell that there are pit falls that I would have fallen down if I had not had any prior knowledge.
Lets Delve deeper into this abyss. The first problem is the program that I am meant to learn on. You can either use Microsoft Visual Studio or another IDE that Sams preaches, though it doesn’t start off at the very beginning. It does not offer an explanation between building a cursor file or a windows form app. So for the past few days I have been stumbling around these applications trying to work out when and where to use the appropriate type.
Thankfully after searching around for other resources there are MSDN videos that explain what it is all about, though that is not the point. Assumed knowledge is required. Then there is the issue of practical versus theory. Where it explains the theoretical side in brief detail and then asks you to do a practical example. Whilst doing the practical example you are just basically typing what is in the book, and then it tries to explain what you have just done. Though If you have just typed it into the IDE what is the point of doing this if you do not understand what you are doing.
Then there is the issue of changing speeds on what you are teaching. Most books start with just type this in, don’t worry if it doesn’t make sense it will later. Each chapter is meant to be a different topic, building on knowledge that you have gained. Sometimes this information is a great leap that you don’t fully understand, and then sometimes it is information that you have already covered.
So how do you fix this?
As a future teacher prior knowledge is Key. However even books that preach that no prior knowledge is required used terms that do not make sense to the layman. What should occur is to help with accommodating these new terms is using an existing schema of something that everybody knows like a kitchen. Where you can break down the main concepts into something that is understandable and practical. Like when cooking its no good just saying that this is the recipe and this is how you bake a cake it is more useful for the person to know the ingredients, what they taste like and how they combine together. It may not be cooking, it may be sports that you relate to it, however it is easier for the pupil to relate to an existing infrastructure that they already know then to give them something new in which you have no way to associate it with anything else.
What else can be done? well as technology is changing so should the teaching and learning. The use of multiple resources is becoming more prevalent. If you are going to learn something in this day and age, just googling an answer does not mean you understand the question, so If Blooms taxonomy is applied to these types of learning events by ensuring that higher order thinking occurs then the pupil will actually understand the subject more. Would this approach help others? That unfortunately I can’t answer its just my view.