To minimize the time spent on learning programming, it is enough to choose the right approach. Today we will talk about two main ones – the Bottom-Up and Top-Down methods.

Learning programming correctly
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Let’s analyze their features and advantages, and also try to make the right choice. 

“Bottom-Up”

This approach is chosen by many educational institutions, because it involves the study of programming, starting from the very basics. The student teaches mathematics in detail, the structure and functions of a computer, theory – from databases to compilers, etc. 

Each lesson is a separate basic topic without transitions to more complex terms, which allows you to thoroughly study programs and gives an understanding of each direction of programming. As a result, a student can choose a separate narrowly focused profession, but has a basis for each of them. This gives him the opportunity to change his mind at any time and switch to a different profile or gradually expand the boundaries of his career. 

Regardless of whether you want to become a UX or 3D designer, the database will be necessary, and it will be the same for all specifications. 

Advantages

  • With slow but confident steps from simple to complex, you will gain the necessary knowledge, and most importantly, understand what you are learning. 
  • The Bottom-Up courses are maximally adapted and structured for training, so that even a teapot can understand what’s what. 
  • Most often, it is those who go this way who are better versed in programming and become stronger team players.
  • Specialists understand the causal chain faster; if there is an error on the upper turns of the system, the student of the Bottom-Up approach subconsciously understands how it all started, how everything works below, and where to look for an error.

Disadvantages

  • The study of theory is more important than learning actual skills.
  • Since learning takes time, the desired outcome is obtained over an extended period of time.
  • Knowledge gained now might not be valuable tomorrow.

Unfortunately, this approach usually results in disappointment from the profession. Many people want to get results here and now, because they are not ready to spend months and years on the way. As a result, conflicts of expectations can occasionally overwhelm students, causing them to drop out. But the result is worth it. 

“Top-Down”

These days, learning programming is more commonly done in this manner. It entails focusing on just one profile while mastering the basics and expanding knowledge.

Choosing a Top-Down approach, the student immediately takes on the project and begins training with the question ”how to implement it?”. To do this, a pre-made tutorial is used, and the entire course is carried out from beginning to end step by step. At the output, the project has been created and the necessary skills have been obtained, but only for this task. 

Advantages

  • The training takes place in the real conditions of the workflow. 
  • There is no need to spend time studying the basis.
  • Rapid achievement of results and satisfaction with their capabilities.
  • You can immediately feel out different specializations by trying to complete a project at least in each of them. 

Disadvantages

  • There is no understanding of what exactly was done and why the project worked.
  • The complete absence of theory often prevents repeating the result.

Due to the large gaps in knowledge, it will be possible to carry out projects only suitable for the tutorial. If you make one mistake, you will not even be able to understand where it was made and you will have to start all over again. And if you want to understand the essence, it will be very difficult to navigate. 

Is there a right choice?

Without a doubt, “Top-down” is the way to go if you want a quick but questionable result, and “Bottom-up” is the way to go if you really want to learn everything. BUT combining both strategies is a preferable choice.

Understanding the instructions alone won’t help you find a job. Knowing and comprehending the fundamentals of programming is crucial, at least in one specific area. The huge and limitless world of technology requires you to learn how to write code and understand cause-and-effect relationships; ready-made solutions can only help you in a very modest way. 

How to combine correctly? 

Start working on the project using the “Top-Down” approach. As soon as you come into a confusing topic or issue, completely restudy it. You’ll find it easier to move forward and the situation will start to become clearer once you’ve filled in the information gaps. In the end, you will know exactly what was done and for what, and if the program does not work, there will be a basis for understanding at what stage the mistake was made. 

It’s preferable to begin with an easy game or simple website before advancing to more complicated ones. The process of alternating theory and practice will give faster (than in the Bottom-Up approach), but deep skills and knowledge (than in the Top-Down approach) in one of the aspects of programming, which will lead to the desired result and job offer.