Many people tend to believe that learning programming requires inhuman memory. Being a skilled programmer is, however, not about memorization. The idea of memorization is prevalent in the school, but once you get into programming, you realize that things are different. You have to learn and understand syntax and understand it according to the programming language that you are working on.
Do You Need To Memorize Syntax?
Memorizing code requires you to declare a variable, function, create an argument, set parameters, and more. The syntax is one of the most important things when you start learning how to code. The syntax defines the rules of a particular programming language that you are using. Many people have a difficult time memorizing syntax, so they only start focusing on memorizing.
The reason why they are concerned with using syntax is, so they never have to look it up again. They are going to do everything so that they can memorize as much as they can. They also feel like they are ready to not start programming or even solve small problems before memorizing all the syntax.
The truth of the matter is that you can memorize very little syntax and still create effective programs. For instance, small applications do not require you to know a lot about syntax. However, you still have to understand some of the concepts behind the programming language that you are working with.
For instance, one example is a “for loop,” which is one of the first things that programmers will learn. A “For loop” is something that you can easily learn contextually. However, to get the concept down, you can simply start using the function to loop through an array of data so you can go through each item.
As you can see, you can use the function practically without needing as much knowledge. You could have forgotten syntax after learning it. However, once you start to use it and become exposed to it, then you can understand it in more depth. It is much more important to be exposed to it.
Is Memorization Important?
Memorization is important earlier on in the first couple of weeks of learning a programming language. However, once you get through it and you understand the idea behind a function, then the most important thing is to use that knowledge in some way. The key to remembering things long-term is to practically apply them and use them repeatedly.
Even though you are not going to feel like you remember a lot, practice makes perfect! The more creative ways that you try to use a for loop, the better you will be able to memorize it. If you ask a programmer whether they remember every syntax, most will be clear to say that they don’t. Many programmers will use search engines to find the right syntax for their code.
Focus on Concepts
Overall, memorization is not very important with programming. It may be great if you need to learn different topics, but trying to memorize programming can be unnecessarily difficult. This is mostly because there are millions of functions and methods to memorize, far exceeding an average person’s brain capacity. Memorizing it all is nearly impossible.
Instead, it can be more important to focus on the concepts of programming, as these can help you make use of different functions in creative ways. If you understand how functions, objects, and variables work, then you pretty much know 95% of the important concepts. The difficult part is that you get lost in the complexities when you are trying to learn the concepts.
Once you start to learn about functions, you learn about all the built-in functions that you can memorize. That should, however, not be your focus, and you should instead learn about how you use these functions and how they work. You should also focus on the concept of functions as a whole as opposed to how to implement functions.
When you get to the point where you need to do that, then you can simply Google it. Therefore, programmers can simply search for solutions and find functions that help them solve their specific problem instead of memorizing them. The functions, methods, and things that you use the most often will eventually stay in your memory because you use them all the time.
You will not need to memorize the things that you do not use very often, and programmers can simply look them up and use them when required.
Everything is Documented in Programming
One of the best things about programming is that everything is usually documented very well. When it comes to history, you need to do plenty of research to fact-check things. In programming, you can simply look up the documentation of a language, and you will find the correct information every time. Due to this incredible ability to look up anything that you want, memorization is not a skill that you really need as a programmer.
If programmers focus too much on memorization, they are setting themselves up to fail since there is way too much to memorize. The focus should instead predicate on the concepts instead, and from that, you can extrapolate the knowledge into coding any function or algorithm that you want.
Memorization is a bad idea because it only works when you need to perform a small subset of things. If you have a collection of things that you need to memorize, and they happen to never get changed and updated, then you can memorize them easily. With programming, you have an ever-evolving field where things are always changing and being added and improved.
On top of that, the field is massive, and there are many things that you need to memorize. The set is not small enough, and you have to stop memorizing and instead focus on constantly learning. This is one thing that programmers need to realize. Programming is a field where the learning process never stops, and there will always be something new that will come out of it.
There will also always be new things that are emerging, and as a programmer, you will have to spend more time learning than anything else. If you can become an efficient and quick learner, then you will drastically increase the speed at which you can become a programmer. You can also learn new programming skills.
The analogy of Learning Programming
The best analogy of learning programming is the process of learning math. When you were first learning about addition and subtraction, along with multiplication and division, you used word problems to learn the concepts of each function. You did not memorize the multiplication, division, and other functions, but you found out how to do it by learning the concepts and going through the calculation process.
This applies similarly to programming. Programmers do not have to learn and memorize each and every function, but instead, they have to memorize the concepts. The functions that you use most often will stick in your memory because you use them all the time.
To sum up, the efficient method of learning how to code is not memorization, despite that being a natural instinct to learn anything. It is not helpful to memorize your code. And instead, become very familiar with its concept by actively repeatedly using it. Humans are not computers, and people, in general, do not have a large capacity to memorize code.