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Learning new things: Don't beat your head against a wall.

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I think I've been going about this all wrong.

I've been trying to "master all the JavaScripts" since I decided to become a web designer in 2008. Since then, my job description has changed, but my JS mastery progress has been minimal. Everyone else seemed to "get" JavaScript while I was stuck in second gear with jQuery. Over and over, "JavaScript the Good Parts" and "Eloquent JavaScript" were tossed my way with "it worked for me, so it's the best advice I can give you" gestures. But the words in the books didn't make sense to me. They were written for people who had been programming with other languages, using terms I didn't know, explaining programming quirks I could not appreciate (as a recently defecting cartoonist, I was not aware what classes were, that other programming languages had them, nor why it was so alarming that JS did not have them--it seemed to work just fine to me!).

Then I read "JavaScript Enlightenment," and everything started making sense. JavaScript stopped being the big bad wolf and started being my little kitchen helper. Plus I started working for a company where I got to own the JavaScript, CSS and HTML without having to justify every move to a head of Marketing who was afraid to let go of frames.

This and a trip to OSCON in summer kicked off a new Era of Enlightenment and Play for me. I read "The Manga Guide to Databases" and "Getting Started with Arduino." These have nothing to do with JavaScript, but somehow I feel like I understand so much more because of them. Now when I open "Eloquent JavaScript," I understand more of the words and can follow the logic better. This didn't happen when I was digging my way through repetitive books like "jQuery Novice to Ninja," even though it was about JavaScript (abstracted, but still JavaScript), and these are not linked back to JS at all.

All those JavaScript books I felt like I should be reading, I wish I'd recognized that they weren't getting me anywhere. I wish I'd stopped, backed up, and taken a completely different approach, like tackling Haskel or something not front-end. Instead, I did the worst possible thing: I beat my head against a wall, rereading things I already knew or trying to dig my way through things I had no way of understanding.

But now I know better. Now I know not to dig in when the tools obviously aren't doing the job. Now I know that instead of shifting to second gear to plow up an enormous grade, it's often better to roll to the bottom of the mountain and take a different road, one where you can enjoy the scenery instead of feeling bad while other people pass you.

This is the next book I want to read: http://manning.com/pearson/

It's not about JavaScript. It's not going to help me become a "JavaScript Ninja." But I'm going to learn so much and have so much fun with it.

Comments

  • Blank-mugshot
    runexec

    Life is too short to learn something you don't enjoy. +1 http://coderwall.com/p/j_liew

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    milgner

    +1

    Reminds me of that time when I didn't manage to advance my bass playing because all that musical theory was so dry and uninspiring. Then I took piano lessons for a couple of years. And now that I'm back on the bass guitar as my main instrument, a lot of things that previously were just a bunch of notes are making a whole lot of sense.

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    cais

    A philosophy of enjoying oneself first, and foremost, will provide the greatest encouragement to continue going forward. Thanks for sharing your story.

  • Kevin_suttle
    kevinsuttle

    Thanks for sharing this. Perfectly-timed for me.

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    rohitweb86

    hey this article helped me a lot the book u mentioned here is really a good 1 cause it cleared all the misunderstanding that i had and why i was not able to go ahead in JS

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    theoptips

    i started learning using Codecademy. Though I know most developers will consider it trivial, but i love it, it works perfectly for me, i have been learning since! love it. Thanks for the recommendation, will check out the list of books. Wow the jQuery book is expensive. Glad the enlightenment for javascript is free :D

  • 617ae6751e4be45a324f215f287310e8_normal
    theoptips

    i started learning using Codecademy. Though I know most developers will consider it trivial, but i love it, it works perfectly for me, i have been learning since! love it. Thanks for the recommendation, will check out the list of books. Wow the jQuery book is expensive. Glad the enlightenment for javascript is free :D

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    martinczerwi

    Thought I'd share another resource here, that will pretty much help anybody get along with JS. It's completely free, and handles all the JavaScript concepts in easily understandable use cases: Eloquent JavaScript ( http://eloquentjavascript.net/ ). Although I've been coding PHP for some years now, I read this from chapter one, and never regretted it.

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    kknights

    For years I have built sites using jquery, without really understanding js natively (the way I do with html and css). I used plugins, did my best to make them work to my needs, and asked for help if I got stuck. Over the last year or so I've realized this doesn't cut it anymore and have been reading all the same books as you and trying to get myself to the point where Im writing js from scratch, but also not really getting anywhere. My head is permabruised from all the banging!

    Am off to get a copy of JavaScript Enlightenment, big thanks for writing about it!

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