Head First Learn to Code: A Learner's Guide to Coding and Computational Thinking Paperback – Illustrated, 16 January 2018
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About 'Head First' Books
We think of a Head First Reader as a Learner
Learning isn't something that just happens to you. It's something you do. You can't learn without pumping some neurons. Learning means building more mental pathways, bridging connections between new and pre-existing knowledge, recognizing patterns, and turning facts and information into knowledge (and ultimately, wisdom). Based on the latest research in cognitive science, neuro-biology, and educational psychology, Head First books get your brain into learning mode.
Here's how we help you do that:
We tell stories using casual language, instead of lecturing. We don't take ourselves too seriously. Which would you pay more attention to: a stimulating dinner party companion, or a lecture?
We make it visual. Images are far more memorable than words alone, and make learning much more effective. They also make things more fun.
We use attention-grabbing tactics. Learning a new, tough, technical topic doesn't have to be boring. The graphics are often surprising, oversized, humorous, sarcastic, or edgy. The page layout is dynamic: no two pages are the same, and each one has a mix of text and images.
Metacognition: thinking about thinking
If you really want to learn, and you want to learn more quickly and more deeply, pay attention to how you pay attention. Think about how you think. The trick is to get your brain to see the new material you're learning as Really Important. Crucial to your well-being. Otherwise, you're in for a constant battle, with your brain doing its best to keep the new content from sticking.
Here's what we do:
We use pictures, because your brain is tuned for visuals, not text. As far as your brain's concerned, a picture really is worth a thousand words. And when text and pictures work together, we embedded the text in the pictures because your brain works more effectively when the text is within the thing the text refers to, as opposed to in a caption or buried in the text somewhere.
We use redundancy, saying the same thing in different ways and with different media types, and multiple senses, to increase the chance that the content gets coded into more than one area of your brain.
We use concepts and pictures in unexpected ways because your brain is tuned for novelty, and we use pictures and ideas with at least some emotional content, because your brain is more likely to remember when you feel something.
We use a personalized, conversational style, because your brain is tuned to pay more attention when it believes you're in a conversation than if it thinks you're passively listening to a presentation.
We include many activities, because your brain is tuned to learn and remember more when you do things than when you read about things. And we make the exercises challenging-yet-do-able, because that's what most people prefer.
We use multiple learning styles, because you might prefer step-by-step procedures, while someone else wants to understand the big picture first, and someone else just wants to see an example. But regardless of your own learning preference, everyone benefits from seeing the same content represented in multiple ways.
We include content for both sides of your brain, because the more of your brain you engage, the more likely you are to learn and remember, and the longer you can stay focused. Since working one side of the brain often means giving the other side a chance to rest, you can be more productive at learning for a longer period of time.
We include challenges by asking questions that don't always have a straight answer, because your brain is tuned to learn and remember when it has to work at something.
Finally, we use people in our stories, examples, and pictures, because, well, you're a person. Your brain pays more attention to people than to things.
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
As a beginning coder, I cannot stress enough how appreciative I was of his fast, personal help.
I am sticking with the latter parts of my review, though, because, so far, some knit-picky stuff in the early chapters still grab my attention. As I get farther into the book and notice improvements upon my that specific issue, I will update again.
As of this writing, Sept 3, 2018, I am only giving this book a two-star rating, BECAUSE the very first big piece of code in which they guide you does not work. I downloaded the source code from their website; it, too, does not work. I sent them an email. Revisions will depend upon their response to my email and not this review. Also, another downgrade because it was about impossible to find ANY contact information. That, by the way, has become one of my first criteria when purchasing ANY computer book. No OBVIOUS contact information makes me suspicious.
If said error did not exist, I would give this book a solid 4.5. It does fairly a decent job of breaking down the thought process of coding for the beginner, but it often fails to specifically explain what a certain thing is doing or how Python interprets the symbol or word. The writers fall into the same trap all other writers for coding books fall into, they know so much that they do not realize what they are not saying. Of all of the books I have tried to study on the subject, this is still the best BY FAR. But it can still use some work. If you know something of computers, are resilient of mind, stout of heart and can take a few punches along the way. This book can teach you a lot. If you are scared of computers and see coding as something magical, DO NOT buy ANY book. Take a class.
As with the other books in the Head First series, this book is written in a conversational and engaging style. The subjects presented are scaffolded incredibly well and provide all of the guidance a beginner needs to develop confidence. The exercises peppered along the learner's journey are fun and clever. The examples are relevant and later chapters introduce Turtle, web services to plot the location of the International Space Station and Conway's Game of Life. As the conversation develops in each chapter, the narrative unfolds and the characters invite the learner to participate directly in the solution. I found myself looking forward to turning the page to see if my favorite character was going to appear next.
I will be using the text as a primary foundation for a high school course. It is well-suited for that purpose along with being very well-suited for an individual to pick up and learn independently at the pace of their choosing. This book is also a fun way to acquire Python when you already have some programming experience.
Computers are dumb. They do exactly what you tell them to do; nothing more and nothing less. Computers are not like human beings in that humans can hear what someone instructed them to do and then guess or infer what the person really wanted.
Head First Learn to Code is truly the best book out there for someone who is just beginning to get into programming. It teaches you to think about breaking problems down into simpler tasks and then writing code for those simplified tasks. It gives you a great overview of all the technologies and resources available to advance as a coder.
Most computer books, (even supposed beginning ones) are written assuming the reader has more knowledge about coding than they actually do. Perpaps the expert writing the book has forgotten what they did and didn't know when they were a complete beginner.
A true educator knows the phases a begginer goes through on their way to mastery of a skill, and Dr. Eric Freeman excels at educating.