Today in the Scholars’ Lab Grad Fellows office I had a brief conversation with Alex about learning programming.
Me: Hey, Alex.
Alex: Hi. How are things going for you?
Me: [exasperated sigh]
Alex: Ha! I actually really enjoy it. It’s soothing…
Me: [incredulous eyebrows]
Alex: …like Sudoku!
Soothing is not the first word I would use to describe my programming language skills acquisition experience. I realize that much of the problem has to do with my schedule: trying to work my weekly Praxis hours into an even spread has proven all but impossible thus far. I haven’t given up on trying to resolve this problem, but because I’m “still in coursework” (akin to “still in diapers,” I think?) as well as a first-time TA, I often find that the weekly round of course reading, discussion section prep, and meeting scheduling pushes Praxis from the top third of my to-do list until after the Tuesday-through-Friday crunch. Like Alex, I am convinced that learning how to use Ruby is very much like learning any other language—but when I was learning French I had class (and thus practiced) every day. Such is not the case for me and Ruby at this point in time. And I’m feeling guilty.
I should reiterate that I do take full responsibility for my Ruby angst. The hours I spend with colleagues and SLab folks every week are always productive, and the direct instruction we receive at our weekly Praxis meetings has been well-structured and richly informative. But I will say that in spite of these advantages it has still been just plain difficult to make enough time to do this job as well as I would like to do it. Both Alex and Lindsay bring up the separation of Academy from Other this week in their posts, and I suppose I feel as though the middle ground between these two groups is at times the most difficult to navigate. I am proud to be part of the Praxis Program; I also feel honored that I am being allowed to earn my literature degree at this prestigious institution. I just hope that I can remember why the second honor should not be incompatible with the first; that I can find enough courage to spend one extra hour per day pursing knowledge which I’m convinced is at least equally important to my scholarly and intellectual development as are my more traditional studies. It’s always difficult to step away from the volume of poetry; by the end of my morning session in the SLab today I found it really was equally difficult to break off my programming exercises practice, though I still don’t think I’ve become proficient enough to feel soothed by Ruby. Provoked is more like it. But then I enjoy a little bit of confrontation.
So here’s to making time! Cheers to the newly bilingual.