Adventures in Programming #1: In Medias Res

It’s a strange world.

When I began this blog years ago, it was with the intention of commentating upon various anime from the perspective of an Orthodox Christian. This was only natural; I was an English Major in my undergraduate years, and I planned to go to seminary, later with the hopes of eventually obtaining a doctorate so I could teach. Extracting patterns and themes from narratives was rather second nature at that point, and anime was still rather dear to me, and so the whole experiment seemed to make sense.

Yet, from the dearth of content, one can tell something didn’t quite go right. I lost steam writing week to week, and once in seminary I found myself with a girlfriend, and, as has happened before, I found that all things anime seemed rather blasé. My interests were congealing around my theological research, and a doctorate in systematic theology (dogmatics) seemed providentially ordained (many things do, to seminarians). Teachers, mentors, and even my heroes were all pushing me in this direction.

But then came marriage, and a child, and the realization that I was not willing to ask them to sacrifice seven years for me to earn a degree that had little-to-no chance of obtaining a career. Mix that with the current political climate of college campuses, and the prospects were dashed upon the rocks. It took me about half a year to come to this realization, and almost another whole year before arriving where I am now. Though my spiritual father had recommended computer science to me early on, I tried to find other career paths that could allow me to still work directly for the Church, even considering the priesthood, a vocation that I had shut the door on previously.

Yet, with every attempt doors closed, leaving me with computer science — programming, rather (they are not the same thing). Returning to college was out of the question; I had fortunately been able to go through both undergraduate and graduate school without taking out loans, and I didn’t want to saddle myself with them now. Fortunately, programming was a lucrative career option that didn’t have to require a degree, and so I began to look at boot camps and various other on-line methods of education. While the programs all seemed excellent, the cost was far too much for anything I could afford, and the full-time dedication they required wasn’t an option for me.

As I continued to look at program after program, I eventually found Launch School. What struck me first was the price; Launch School only charged a $199/month fee which was far cheaper than the $10k+ that most boot camps cost. But what truly stuck out at me was Launch School’s insistence on Mastery Based Learning (a written description of this philosophy as well as a 45 minute video can be found here). In short, Launch School forces its students to have full mastery over their subject matter, using assessments along the way to test their knowledge. If a student still has yet to master a certain subject, they will not be able to continue further on into the program until they can demonstrate mastery. Thus, one’s completion of Launch School is not primarily contingent upon time, but knowledge of the subject matter.

This philosophy seems rather obvious to me, and even as I read through George Leonard’s Mastery (one of the required readings of the prep-course), I found little that I had serious disagreement with (and that which I did stemming from our differing world views). It wasn’t long before I enrolled.

So that’s where I am now, more or less. I would like to start writing on a more frequent basis, not just on my experiences with the Launch School program, but on those subjects which I had previously left behind. A Rather Silly Blog was originally meant to be a bit frivolous, and I think during seminary I took myself a bit too seriously. God, through his providence, humbles one when they get like that — and so hopefully I can be silly about myself and my writing once more.