The fastest way to learn ANYTHING
Submitted by BruceCage on May 28, 2006 - 4:17pm.
learn by solving *your* problems
Sure, there are seriously important things to learn in data structures, algorithms, and methodologies, but the fastest way to learn programming (the fastest way to learn ANYTHING) is to try to solve your own problems, not the stock rote example problems you'll find in books.
If you want to learn how to skate, take a tennis ball and chase it around a parking lot while having skates strapped to your feet. Don't spend more than a few minutes trying to consciously learn how to stand, roll forward, brake, or fall. Chase the ball. Do something OTHER than learn how to skate, but do something that requires skating. Your medulla oblongata will do the job far faster if it's allowed to do it without micromanagement from your conscious mind.
Same goes for programming. You won't learn how recursion works by typing in a fibonacci example. You'll learn how recursion works when you want to make a gallery thingy and find yourself needing to catalogue all *.jpg files below a certain directory. You won't learn how object oriented programming works by re-reading the wikipedia article on polymorphism, you'll learn more valuable lessons when you decide it's insane to be writing almost identical code in so many places and realize that's what a parent class is for.
Solve YOUR problems, not the book's, and you will develop a passion for problem solving. Almost all of the "programmers" out there who succeed have one thing in common: they wanted something implemented so they got it working on their own.