Looking to master the craft of programming? The first steps in learning how to program may be daunting. Typically, many to-be developers don’t know where to start and try to grasp information from all available sources. Yet, it's not always the best approach.
The most common approach to learning programming is buying how-to-code books, reading them, and then reading them all over again. This method works perfectly in the short term, as you will learn a few new concepts. The real challenge comes in when beginner coders, who have just started their learning path, start creating a real-world project. Even those who have a basic set of programming knowledge typically struggle to follow the logic and don’t understand where to start.
So how do you prevent this from happening? The answer is by studying the best learning practices. The Franklin Method is one of the most productive learning strategies that has proven its efficiency throughout many industries.
To assist in your learning, this article covers the Franklin method and how you can use it in learning programming. As a bonus, you will find other useful learning tips and methods.
The Benjamin Franklin Method
It’s truly fascinating to think that Benjamin Franklin’s method has become notable in so many spheres. Writers use the Franklin Method to master their writing skills. Scholars find this method effective in memorizing large volumes of data and complex concepts.
From politics to programming, Benjamin Franklin’s method of self-education is a powerful and effective learning strategy. It was founded on the idea of forcing your brain to memorize information so that you can recall in one piece. Let me explain how.
How Does the Franklin Method Work?
Benjamin Franklin believed that he could learn by imitating and reproducing others’ work. In his autobiography, he introduced a learning method based on the idea of mental representations and imitation.
Franklin described how he aimed to recreate the writing of the Spectator, an influential British magazine on politics, by reading it, making notes, and trying to recreate the piece. Then, he compared his writing to the original copy, identified his mistakes, and corrected them. Franklin would usually practice on the weekends, at night, or in the morning before his work. Sometimes, he would make notes and then shuffle them or turn them into poems to learn how he could better arrange his thoughts. Franklin was rather delighted with the method. The practice worked and helped him improve his word choice and expand the vocabulary he could use in his writing.
The method is universal and can also be employed to learn programming. Here’s how to use the Franklin Method to learn how to code:
- Read the existing implementation. Let’s imagine you’ve run into the code sample you want to memorize. The first thing you want to do is read the existing code sample.
- Take notes of relevant information. When reading the code, take notes on what seems interesting to you or challenges you. Notes will help you recall the information in future. For example, you can jot down routine names and variables.
- Try to write the equivalent code. Once you’re done taking notes, try mimicking the original as closely as possible. It might not be the perfect code, but that’s not the point. The main idea is trying to recall and rewrite as much information as you can in a logical order.
- Repeat. After you’ve finished writing your duplicate, you want to compare your code with the original and correct your mistakes. Once you’re finished, go to step one and repeat it all over again until you can easily write the code sample.
You will know that you succeeded when you can rewrite the code sample without checking your notes. You can use this method to memorize any code sample. There are no limitations on which type of code to use, as the method is universal. You can also use this method to memorize programming principles.
How To Learn Programming Properly?
Besides constant repetition and imitation of the original code, you want to consider the following learning practices that are as effective as the Franklin method.
Pay Special Attention to the Core Concepts
Understanding the fundamental principles of coding is as important as choosing your programming language. As a beginner, you may want to jump to practice right away, but you must learn the basics first.
Begin with choosing the programming language you are most comfortable with. Once you’ve chosen the language, you want to take your time to understand its syntax and core concepts, including conditionals, variables, loops, and operations.
Keep in mind that the better you understand the core concepts, the easier it is to understand more advanced practices.
Understand Data Structures and Algorithms
Once you feel comfortable with the programming language you’ve chosen and can code the most basic programs, the next thing you should do is make sense of algorithms and data structures.
In programming, the right combination of data structures and algorithms is paramount for solving complex programming problems. That’s why learning different data structures and understanding how they can be used in solving different problems will greatly contribute to your programming skills.
Learn to implement different algorithms every day. You can follow the Franklin Method to memorize and practice the new algorithms and data structures.
If you face a complex multi-layer problem, try breaking it into smaller chunks to get to the final solution.
Learn to Code by Hand
When you practice the Franklin Method, always code by hand. Hand coding is one of the most effective ways to learn how to code. Hand coding implies a programming technique in which users type in all of the code manually without the help of code generators. Even though this method is time-consuming, it’s paramount to know how to hand-code if you want to become a professional coder.
Besides the evident educational benefits, hand learning has other advantages. When you use generators, they usually create extra code, whereas hand-coding allows you to leave a smaller coding footprint. This will majorly benefit your website’s (app’s/program’s) speed.
When using the Franklin Method, you want to start with smaller projects and code samples and less complex principles. Rushing to solve difficult programming problems is a common mistake many novice developers make. When it comes to building complex projects, amateurs typically get stuck and try to find solutions in online tutorials and exercises. However, this may result in a ton of wasted time and effort.
Instead, you want to start by doing smaller projects, and then gradually move to solve more complex problems. This way, you will get enough expertise in building smaller parts to complete a large time-consuming project. For example, if you’re starting a website, you want to start with small features like a signup and login form and then move to more complex parts such as a navigation bar.
Play Around With the Code
Successfully completing your first project doesn’t mean that you’ve learned everything about programming. Even the most qualified professionals keep exploring and playing with code to learn something new.
Computer science is a constantly developing and rich field that will definitely have something new in store for you. If you’re specializing in web development, you may want to consider expanding your knowledge and learning more about mobile app development, systems programming, cloud computing, virtual reality, or blockchain. Make sure to educate yourself in these fields using the Franklin Method. I have already mentioned the universality of the method. You can learn the key concepts of all these disciples by rewriting them the way Franklin duplicated the Spectator volume.
What Can You Do With the Franklin Method?
Benjamin Franklin was right—the recreation of the original piece and repetition are the key components of efficient learning. The Franklin Method is a great reminder that our brains just as our muscles can be trained to perform better. Before you leave, let’s quickly wrap up what you’ve learned today.
The Benjamin Franklin Method suggests that you can learn by reading code samples, putting them away, and trying to rewrite the code from memory. If you’re stuck, you can look at your notes or reopen the code. This will force your brain to have a full picture of the code. As a result, you will memorize the code faster.
Besides using the Franklin Method to memorize code samples, you want to take the time to discover the fundamental concepts of the coding language that you’ve chosen.
Pay special attention to various data structures and algorithms. Master hand coding as you start with small projects.
And finally, never stop exploring! Benjamin Franklin wrote about his learning method when he was 65 years old. This teaches us that we all (just like Benjamin Franklin) are constant learners. That’s why it’s never late to practice the way he did.