Learning Java

Thursday Mar 1st 2001
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At about the same time that my first book Using C++ (Osborne/McGraw-Hill 1989) came out, I began teaching that language. Teaching programming languages has become my profession; I’ve seen nodding heads, blank faces, and puzzled expressions in audiences all over the world since 1989. As I began giving in-house training with smaller groups of people, I discovered something during the exercises. Even those people who were smiling and nodding were confused about many issues. I found out, by chairing the C++ track at the Software Development Conference for the past few years (and now also the Java track), that I and other speakers tended to give the typical audience too many topics too fast. So eventually, through both variety in the audience level and the way that I presented the material, I would end up losing some portion of the audience. Maybe it’s asking too much, but because I am one of those people resistant to traditional lecturing (and for most people, I believe, such resistance results from boredom), I wanted to try to keep everyone up to speed.

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At about the same time that my first book Using C++ (Osborne/McGraw-Hill 1989) came out, I began teaching that language. Teaching programming languages has become my profession; I’ve seen nodding heads, blank faces, and puzzled expressions in audiences all over the world since 1989. As I began giving in-house training with smaller groups of people, I discovered something during the exercises. Even those people who were smiling and nodding were confused about many issues. I found out, by chairing the C++ track at the Software Development Conference for the past few years (and now also the Java track), that I and other speakers tended to give the typical audience too many topics too fast. So eventually, through both variety in the audience level and the way that I presented the material, I would end up losing some portion of the audience. Maybe it’s asking too much, but because I am one of those people resistant to traditional lecturing (and for most people, I believe, such resistance results from boredom), I wanted to try to keep everyone up to speed.

For a time, I was creating a number of different presentations in fairly short order. Thus, I ended up learning by experiment and iteration (a technique that also works well in Java program design). Eventually I developed a course using everything I had learned from my teaching experience – one that I would be happy giving for a long time. It tackles the learning problem in discrete, easy-to-digest steps and in a hands-on seminar (the ideal learning situation), there are exercises following each of the short lessons. I now give this course in public Java seminars, which you can find out about at http://www.BruceEckel.com. (The introductory seminar is also available as a CD ROM. Information is available at the same Web site.)

The feedback that I get from each seminar helps me change and refocus the material until I think it works well as a teaching medium. But this book isn’t just a seminar handout – I tried to pack as much information as I could within these pages and structured it to draw you through onto the next subject. More than anything, the book is designed to serve the solitary reader who is struggling with a new programming language.

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