CMK Day 2: Hitting my stride

Reflection Time in the Library
Reflection Time in the Library (Photo credit: lorda)

Yesterday, I made significant progress.  I changed rooms and basically coded for about 6 hours.  I have a working program that I want to add some things to today.  In fact, I woke up way too early this morning, thinking about how I was going to improve my program.

I walked around for a bit yesterday afternoon to see some other projects and there are some amazing things out there.  Lots of people are working together, which makes me feel slightly bad that I didn’t do that.   I really do think that often you can accomplish more as a group, sharing expertise and the workload.  But I like what I’ve done, and I hope to push myself a little bit further today.  I hope to perfect what I have in Python and move to Processing/Arduino today.  What I’d like to do, perhaps this afternoon, is take some chunk of data and output it to a motor that moves something.  Or maybe use some lights.  And if I don’t get there today, I’m inspired to work more this summer, which is a good thing, in my mind.

The room I changed to was filled with people focused on programming, primarily in Scratch.  They were all novices and everyone was pretty much head down, working hard to figure out what they were doing.  At the end of the day, when we were reflecting, one woman broke down in tears as she explained what she’d accomplished during the day.  Basically, she felt smart.  It was really touching.  What talked about what I had gotten done, Cynthia Solomon, one of the creators of Logo, called me a real computer scientist.  That made me a little giddy.  It was about 4 years ago that I was like the others in my room, just beginning to learn.  I may have been a little ahead of them from a technical standpoint, since I’d done some programming before, but from a confidence standpoint, I was right there with them.  I didn’t think I could create something worthwhile.  I was afraid of looking stupid.  I got stuck a lot.

A lot of the people in the room talked about thinking they were tech savvy until they got to CMK.  In many ways, that’s a good thing.  It’s good to know what you don’t know and to push yourself to go to the next level, but it can instill fear.  I remember going off to college, having graduated in the top 25 in my class and being surrounded by 1000 other students who also graduated in the top of their class.  I felt a little like I had to prove myself.  Gaining confidence, in my mind, is about 2 things: one, practice and two, overcoming fear.  Learning a skill takes practice and as you practice, you become better, and you start to overcome fear.  And it’s a constant battle.  There’s no point at which you feel fully confident, at least not in my experience.  Opportunities like CMK help get you over the fear and give you the space to practice.  And we should do more to give ourselves the time and space to get that practice.

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