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The Excuse "I'm Just a Beginner" Is No Longer Valid

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Today I came across this thread, where the OP refuses to do any critical thinking and continues to ignore the correct advice presented to her. When called on it, she uses the excuses of "I'm a beginner" and "but my professor didn't teach me that."


I went over the notes of the professor ,, and he didn't mention ANYTHING abt swap ... !
how COULD i use something that we never talked abt it + this is the first course of java,, if it was my second the Yeah i could do it but i can't :helpsmilie:

In this case, the instructor actually spelled out selection sort in plain English borderline pseudo-code, using synonyms for "swap."

Too often though, newbies prefer to be spoonfed and use these excuses to try and get us to do just that. Why does this happen though? I think it's a combination of a few different things. First, programming is different and challenging. Most of us didn't have much to relate to it when first learning how to program. Second, professors and instructors may or may not present concepts well, and the added stress of deadlines for assignments doesn't help. So in a fit of anxiety, newbies may often shut down, when they in fact just need to take a step back, break down the problem, and work logically through it.

If this sounds like you, remember to take a deep breath and keep working at the problem. If you get stuck, feel free to ask for help. Most of us understand that programming is challenging and what it was like to be a newbie. We want to help you solve your problems. Why else would we frequent a programming help forum? Meet us halfway. Put in effort to solve your problems and play around with our advice. Programming is a process that involves breaking things, then fixing them up. Nobody writes perfect code the first time for anything of any real complexity. Also understand that we want to help you solve your problem, not take away that "eureka" moment that comes from you solving the problem and conquering the challenge. We are happy to offer advice, demonstrate syntax, explain concepts, provide resources, etc.; however, at the end of the day, the responsibility of solving the problem lies on your shoulders.

Also keep in mind that your professors have a limited amount of time with you. There is no way they can cover every API method- it would take forever. You will have to read the documentation and go beyond what you already know at some point in your programming career. The sooner you learn how to do this, the better off you will be down the road.

If you have helped one of these members before, or come across one that only wants to use excuses and be spoon fed, do your best to foster thinking. Explain why the problem is occurring and ask questions to foster thinking about how to fix it. In other words, lead them to water and let them drink. Everyone will be the better for it, and hopefully the poster will have learned something by it.

16 Comments On This Entry

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14 July 2011 - 04:17 PM
why can't i up vote you for this?


14 July 2011 - 04:52 PM
Brilliant post. Programming is about solving problems. If you refuse to solve the problems you meet then your not going to be a programmer. A quick pull from jobs offers:
*Enthusiasm for solving problems
another one
* strong problem-solving and decision-making aptitude
and another one
*Good troubleshooting and problem solving skills
No one says to you don`t ask for advice or help but if you don`t want to put a little effort to solve your own problems then how will you manage to deal with the real life anyway.


14 July 2011 - 10:42 PM
I agree with the problems you've posted. I personally encountered:

- Professors saying "you can do it!" after giving a problem and not teaching us what methods to use
- Students seek help but if you answer a question they will most likely ask again later because they don't follow what's happening to the code

But sometimes a professor really requires no use of fancy methods in the api(like sorting) in beginning programming classes because they want the students to think programmatically. If all you know from the beginning are the API methods/classes what if you've encountered a problem that needs a tailored solution that is not available to the API? You need to do it yourself. That's why early on professors say "don't use anything but <insert limits here>". They'll meet them anyway later on in application development.

By the way that thread was pure awesome. :)


15 July 2011 - 07:06 AM
That's a valid point. If the assignment is to implement a sorting routine, an API method might be inappropriate. To clarify what I'm referring to, I see people working on GUI programs have names like button1, button2, button3, button4, etc. When we suggest arrays, the posters don't take our advice b/c they haven't covered it. Why are they covering GUIs in the first place if they haven't covered arrays?

Glad you all enjoyed my blog entry! :)


15 July 2011 - 07:34 AM
I guess there are some people like that who will make up excuses for the rest of their life. I'm a firm believer of doing as many console applications to generally understand the programming language then moving onto GUIs.


16 July 2011 - 02:21 AM
I think the first chapter a professor should teach (for any field of engineering), is on "how to get things done on your own" which should cover topics on "how to use google","RTF reference book", internet articles/tutorials,video tutorials/lectures,"learn not to give up","try,try and try again,"don't be f***ing lazy" and finally a section on "internet forums, asking help from others and helping others".

Really its all about attitude (and the level of interest in the subject) than anything else. I feel most students have enough IQ for becoming good programmers.
Personally, I don't like asking others help/opinion at all. It turns out to be a bad thing sometimes, as I would waste too much time on something that I could have quickly solved by asking someone. Maybe I have too much self-respect (or 'attitude' as some people call it :P).


16 July 2011 - 07:37 AM
Nice thread. I detest laziness. I learnt to program on my own through the internet, and I believe that people who are lucky enough to have another human being teach them in person, but choose not to put in effort for their part, are simply lazy.


16 July 2011 - 01:28 PM
Could not agree with you more! Just to re-iterate what m-e-g-a-z said about just doing console applications, in the course that I took my teacher made us create console programs and nothing more until as late as possible in the course. However throughout that he was hassled by a number of students who wanted to move on to GUI's as they thought they were 'real programs'. In the end many decided to use the Netbeans designer to make Java GUI's and handed in horrid spaghetti code out of the blue. Just to cap it all off those students ended up doing much worse in the final exam. I suppose its because they didn't get a grip of the basics and went through as much as possible as quickly as possible. In my experience going on to GUI's too will quickly make you one of the programmers described in your post.


16 July 2011 - 02:36 PM
This statement about "I'm just a beginner" is so true....i've said or done some of the same stuff but most of my comments on this community aren't meant the way most take it which is the common "I'm just a beginner", but it's not it's the fact i have trouble finding good things that sound like what i want to do...which to me proves that this excuse stated here is ever so true.


19 July 2011 - 06:15 AM
Couldn't agree more. I remember this thread, refusing to even think of what swap would do.

I think the quote “Give someone a fish and you feed him for a day;
Teach someone to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” fits this article perfectly.


20 July 2011 - 09:29 PM
Half the shit in my coding classes we research ourselves, even our teachers say, for example 'use w3schools or PHP guide for the syntax' etc. You don't learn by being told, you learn by doing.


25 July 2011 - 11:34 AM
@fart: I completely agree about the learning by doing part! I want to clarify some about my other points. I think, as an example, expecting a teacher to cover the the concepts and some basic syntax, and more importantly concepts, of arrays and ArrayLists is fair. I think expecting them to go through every method of an ArrayList is not, as there are probably 20+ methods in the documentation. Teachers should be expected to teach; but for basic API functionality, there should be some expectation that students can research as well. :)


20 August 2011 - 01:20 PM
I do agree with your post because I have worked in IT for the past 8 years but I found this site due to researching a project for Java. I am not trying to get a degree or anything. I just wanted to take a class to learn something new. However, my instructor final exam includes things that were not covered during the class and honestly I feel like I wasted my money. So while I do agree because I have been in your shoes, but I have gotten so confused about resizing Arrays that my brain hurts and I have honestly shut down. I was enjoying learning Java(that's what I wanted to do to begin with) but now I am starting to get turned off. Especially since, it seems like the instructor is too rigid and wants us to program in an older method than what "Google" has basically saying the easier thing to do is use an Array List.

I guess my point (if I have one) don't forget to cut the noobs some slack.


13 November 2011 - 01:00 AM
Your advice is generally right but wise is one who talks to people according to their understanding.


03 January 2012 - 08:18 AM
Brilliant post, mate.


27 February 2012 - 07:21 AM
very nice post man....
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