Computer classes

I’ve really been enjoying the classes I’ve been taking in Web programming this year.  We’re starting to get into material I’m less familiar with, like more advanced Javascript, SQL, and Unix, but a lot of it seems to make sense to me intuitively.  It’s great not to have to struggle with writing essays or even worry about being assigned one.

Though I’m sure the material seems boring to a lot of people, I’m actually finding the classes exciting– I’m learning the codes and commands that lie behind the scenes and create this place called the Internet that we are using right now.  This is goofy, but I sometimes feel a little bit like I’m in a class from Harry Potter.  I mean, just the other day we were learning about were-claws.

Okay; actually, it was a “WHERE clause.”

There has been one class that has been causing me some stress, though, because it’s been a bit unpredictable.  It’s a class in Javascript, a programming language that allows you to make the content of a Web page change based on what the user does (within certain limits).  The material is very challenging, but I was actually enjoying working on the homework because it was like trying to solve a puzzle.  It took a while, but I was able to figure it out.

A lot of the other people in the class had trouble even getting started on it, though.  Everyone was pretty negative about our textbook.  So our teacher changed the homework assignments to group projects.

In general, I don’t like group projects.  In this case, it’s especially hard because there is no opportunity for my group to meet outside of class, and the class time is entirely taken up by the lecture.  It doesn’t lessen the amount of work I have to do to make the homework a group project, because I have to do the whole assignment if I want to learn the material anyway, and figuring out a way to divide the work up fairly is more work.  The big project for the end of the quarter was already going to be a group assignment, so all this does is introduce uncertainty into something that was originally fun.

I didn’t want to say anything because it would have been rude.  Yet again a scene from a Harry Potter movie comes to mind.  (Sorry– My mind easily gets stuck on things; wait a while and it’ll be something else.)  There is a cute moment at the end of The Chamber of Secrets when headmaster Dumbledore announces to the students that all exams are canceled.  Everyone cheers wildly, except for young Hermione Granger, who looks shocked and then starts to pout.  She lives for the exams.

Of course, it’s very likely that it’s better for me to have to deal with something I am weak in– group projects– rather than getting to do something I enjoy because it comes naturally.  Our teacher said that employers are more interested in your ability to work and communicate with other people than your knowledge and skills.  This is often intended as an encouragement to students who are struggling with a topic, but I’m afraid it’s just the opposite for someone with Asperger’s.

It would be easier if I were better able to help others who are struggling.  In the last class, one of my classmates asked me how I approached the material, because she was finding it difficult to learn what she really wanted to know about Javascript.  The book gave her the lines of code to enter in order to create a specific program, but that wasn’t the same as understanding why the program worked and how to use that knowledge to make your own program.

I tried to explain how I read the book and thought about each part, but I wasn’t able to come up with anything she could do that she wasn’t already doing.  I want to help others understand things they are struggling with, but I felt pretty useless in this case.

It seems like this is a case where I have an unfair advantage because of the way my mind works; I sometimes wish it wasn’t that way.

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