Learning to code: Empowerment.
Growing up I was of the opinion that if you weren’t great at mathematics or science there’s no way you’d go into computers. You could say I was clueless in more ways than one because I didn’t actually own my personal computer— let alone know how to properly use one until I was 19.
Skip about a decade ahead. My boyfriend, Niel, is a web developer. I don’t know about you, but as a non coder whenever you have a ‘one in a million idea’ you try to rope in the nearest coder to do your dirty work for you. Generally Niel didn’t mind, but there’d always be a turning point where he would get bogged down in waves of development edits, suggestions and bugs that produced an opportunity cost that neither of us could ignore.
It was at one of these moments that I truly wished that I could jump onto the text editor, wildly type at the keys and miraculously end up with exactly what I wanted.
I was frustrated at the fact that such an important skill of today’s society was so exclusive. And so like any frustrated human, I landed up on google.
The fact that learning to code is more relevant than learning to cook is rather telling.
I ended up on Code Academy and started their entry level HTML/CSS course. I cannot tell you how successful I felt when I was able to create a rudimentary website where although my wild typing usually ended up like Peter Griffin's hassle with a blind, it was still me enacting that change and not someone else. Exhilarating empowerment.
After a while, I no longer found Code Academy very helpful because I didn’t find many of the tasks relevant- and simply learning rules only to forget them a few lessons later did not help much either. I then reached out to a friend of a friend (Katie) who I knew had gone through a similar process and asked (or more like begged) for advice. Somehow the fact that she was female, self-taught and had come out at the other end successful, gave me some much needed motivation.
This was an important turning point for me and looking back, I realised that it wasn’t necessarily the specific advice that Katie gave me but that it was more the fact that someone, like me, had cared enough to reach out and lend a helping hand. This immediately made me think of a quote from the wisest doctor:
I think Dr Seuss’ wisdom also strongly applies in my country, South Africa, where divisions of society are assigned colonial like cycles and destinies are held in a balance by injustice, indifference and nonchalance. Empowerment is important for these areas of society. Coding and caring should be offered from within these circles to readjust the equilibrium.
My path of learning has changed and I’ve since been accepted into Project Codex, an apprenticeship where underrepresented individuals of the coding world get a helping hand. I hope to improve my coding skills in a practical way and I’m exited about leveling up my empowerment game.