wipe-out — I would say this letter described something like a wipe-out experience…
I may need your advice here. On 23 June I tried one medium level question on LeetCode. (Before Bloomberg interviews, I tried Bloomerg CodeCon website for a few days, with similar experience, but luckily there’s no posted solution 🙂
To my dismay, it took me 4+ hours because I hit lots of “devils in the implementation details”.
- I dare not submit my code and run LeetCode test cases because I am scared to see tons of failures, a huge discouragement.
- I am tempted to look at the top solutions, but they are likely much cleaner and better than mine, a huge discouragement.
- Until I pass all test cases, this question is not done and I would feel guilty to give up. In contrast, my own coding projects can be 50% done and I can leave it as is. I would not feel like a quitter. My own projects have no standard test cases to show I’m 50% done or 90% done. You could say LeetCode acceptance criteria is uncompromising and uncomfortable.
Since I don’t want to see myself as a quitter, I must keep spending hours and hours on this one question. The longer I go, the more tired and I just feel increasingly frustrated that I can’t complete even one question. In my own projects, I could give up without shame or
- Even if I were to complete a few questions 100%, I would NOT feel proud because other coders have completed a hundred questions, a huge discouragement.
These discouragements would presumably destroy the precious “burning joy” of coding. This “burning joy” is precious because it’s so hard to get — I need plenty of energy, plenty of quiet time with background music + positive mood to take on tough challenges …. Each hour of coding practice easily consume twice the energy of other type of learning.
Here are other drawbacks to LeetCode:
On the Leetcode code editor, I’m unable to run my own small tests until I have a complete solution. In contrast, in my own coding projects, after I have a small module written I can test it and get some immediate satisfaction and make progress on that module. On LeetCode site, I feel like digging and digging in darkness, until I see some light at end of the tunnel.
- my skill improvement is not higher than in my own coding practice
- satisfaction, positive feedback , self-confidence boost.. is much lower
- stress is higher
- frustration is higher
Then something hit me — I now realize
my son is not as lazy as I thought. As a Chinese father I automatically feel he is not putting the same amount of effort as other kids in his school. But looking at myself .. Am I putting in the same amount of effort as LeetCoders? If we compare to the wrong peer group, we inevitably feel lazy, inferior, inadequate, sub-standard. Such a comparison is not the best way to motivate our kids. It is erosive, hurtful, counter-productive.
In the long run, his classmates who put in more effort doing math problems now may not do better than him. They might do better in standardized exams, but what about university level (no more standardized tests) ?