Interest-Based Learning: Keeping it Lively!

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From “Why’s Poignant Guide to Ruby”. Click the image to see the book!

Ruby has quickly become my language of choice. There’s something about it that just draws me. It might be because I’ve started reading “Why’s Poignant Guide to Ruby”, and he agrees it’s important to submit to something that draws you.

Not familiar?  Here’s a passage:

“This world’s too big for such a a little language, I thought. Poor little thing doesn’t stand a chance. Doesn’t have legs to stand on. Doesn’t have arms to swim.”

…”So, now you’re wondering why I changed my mind about Ruby. The quick answer is: we clicked.

Like when you meet Somebody in college and they look like somebody who used to hit you in the face with paintbrushes when you were a kid. And so, impulsively, you conclude that this new Somebody is likely a non-friend. You wince at their hair. You hang up phones loudly during crucial moments in their anecdotes. You use your pogo stick right there where they are trying to walk!

Six months later, somehow, you and Somebody are sitting at a fountain having a perfectly good chat. Their face doesn’t look so much like that childhood nemesis. You’ve met the Good Twin. You clicked.”

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How can anyone resist artistry like this?

I want to believe that my relationship with coding will evolve in this way!  Right now coding is still like “the kid who hit me in the face with paintbrushes”, but I have faith.  Maybe it’s because I’m always a fan of the underdog, but I believe that coding will eventually become the good twin!


As a teacher and a learning theory enthusiast, I know it’s important to learn about things that I find interesting in ways that feel fun. This week, I’ve primarily been working through the Codecademy Ruby Tutorial, and reading “Why’s Guide”.

The book: Weird cartoon foxes and comics made of 80’s rocker clip art certainly feel fun to me!

The tutorial: Not quite as whimsical, but relatively straightforward. I find it’s necessary to add my own whimsy, which is great for creative-types like me. The deeper I get into the tutorial, the more I like to be able to play around and make up my own commands. I find myself getting anxious when the tutorial prompts me to make arbitrary-seeming things happen. In contrast, I have fun and entertain myself for long periods when I get to make up my own commands that do silly things that I find amusing.  I don’t know enough yet to actually make useful programs, but even little pockets of creativity like the one below make the journey a little bit easier to trek.

I will learn for real…I really will! 

…But if making up commands that evaluate whether or not my friend is a werewolf can help me to remember what “control flow” is, and the syntax for “elsif” expressions, I feel accomplished.

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(Dedicated to Alex, Zen, and family…including werewolves, kittens, and Teddy Roosevelt enthusiasts.)

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