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Re: Re: Helping Beginners

by Tyke (Pilgrim)
on Oct 30, 2001 at 14:05 UTC ( #122052=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to Re: Helping Beginners
in thread Helping Beginners

That's fine when you're in a teaching environment.

The problem is when you're helping someone to find a solution quickly to a concrete problem you're faced with the alternatives:

  1. Explain a correct, efficient solution. Watch the eyes glaze over as soon as you get into anything complex.
  2. Give the correct, efficient solution and just say it works... great way to foster cargo-cult.
  3. Explain in simple chunks building up to the complete picture, and when you're half way through your victim will tell you "Don't have time for all that now, just tell me how to do it". Then go and beat your head against the nearest brick wall (concrete is good too)
  4. Give a simple solution, that's correct and safe, if not optimal. But then the victim beginner doesn't learn as much.
In an in-house environment you can send beginners to courses and give them assignments that will stretch them progressively. In a help mail-list that just isn't possible. You just have to excite a beginner's curiosity while holding their interest, and of course the balance is different for every individual.

I wonder if the best response is to give/explain the 'correct, optimal' (for some definition of 'correct' or 'optimal'), together with the simple safe long solution, and hope that the comparison will whet the beginner's appetite. And that takes more time than most people have available :(

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