Anyone can code

Submitted by Larry on 24 December 2015 - 4:22pm

One of Pixar's best movies is the 2007 "Ratatouille", the story of a rat named Remy who teams up with an unskilled nobody human to become a gourmet chef. Toward the climax of the film (spoiler alert!), the uber-critic Anton Ego visits their restaurant and is blown away by the quality of the food, producing the next day a genuinely humble and reflective review. While the whole review is one of the highlights of the film, there's one segment in particular I want to call out:

In the past, I have made no secret of my disdain for Chef Gusteau's famous motto, "Anyone can cook." But I realize, only now do I truly understand what he meant. Not everyone can become a great artist; but a great artist can come from anywhere. [emphasis added]

It's one of the central themes of the film, and Pixar I believe captures that line beautifully. It's true, not everyone is a good cook. Not everyone can be a good cook. However, good cooks come from a myriad of sources and backgrounds (and apparently species).

And the same concept applies to almost any skilled field, including that of programming.

Let's be honest; most of the world can't code. Most of the world is not going to learn to code, most of the world doesn't need to learn to code (despite what politicians may claim). And that's OK.

And amongst those of us who do code, not all coders are equal. Some take to the process of coding very easily, others need far more practice and training. Some can wrap their head around a problem, others can't. Some easily grok OOP concepts or functional programming concepts, while others struggle with them for a long time, while others can never quite get it. That's OK, too. There really is such a thing as natural aptitude, and there really is such a thing as "practice makes perfect". And few people have both, regardless of the topic at hand.

But, and this is the crux of the matter, that doesn't mean you can predict who those people will be. They could be CS college grads, or they could be self-taught. They could be from elite schools or community colleges. They could have grown up in affluent suburbs or an inner-city ghetto. Their native language could be any of the hundreds that exist. They could be male or female. They could be of European, or African, or Asian descent (or all of the above).

If you find that you can code, go for it. Not everyone can. Not everyone will. That's OK. Wherever you come from, if you find you have a skill, or an aptitude, or fascination with some topic, run with it. Maybe you'll be great at it, maybe not. You won't know until you try. But never, ever let someone tell you not to even try.

Not everyone can become a great developer; but a great developer can come from anywhere.

Including wherever it is you come from.