Programming Language Koans
I finished the Ruby Koans today. I’d been pretty close to the end before I started study at Makers Academy, but it’s good to have them done. I noticed I flew through the last few regardng metaprogramming - I’ve been taught well.
Koans are an interesting tool to learn a language. Instead of teaching a fact, they instead encourage solving a problem. The problems are koans in the sense that the solution to each one reveals a new aspect of Ruby to the student. This starts with simple operators and ends with metaprogramming techniques. The solution tends to be of the ‘fill in the blank’ form, although sometimes they require editing a class.
What I admire about this technique is the following:
Each problem is, in effect, a test. TDD is baked in from the beginning, even if you don’t happen to know what testing is. Think of it as test driven learning.
The lessons are inseperable from the questions. Simply by answering the question you are learning. There is no text with a list of questions at the end to ensure understanding.
Hands on keyboard. You’re reading, and writing, code in an active way. There is no passive learning with writing koans.
If you’ve not tried out a set of koans, here’s
a short list to try out:
- Common Lisp
- Squeak/Pharo Smalltalk
- GNU Smalltalk
I’ve started the Clojure Koans. Where the Ruby Koans were verbose, these are terse. I like terse. Very often I felt like I was being told what to write as the answer to the Ruby Koans. That was right for Ruby, but not for Clojure.
So - go learn something new today!