Shoshin is a concept in Zen Buddism meaning “beginner’s mind.” The idea behind shoshin is to approach learning with openness and without preconceptions, as a beginner would. WatzThis? chose “The Beginner’s Mind” as our tagline because we strive to teach and learn with openness and while never forgetting what it’s like to be new to something.

One of the topics we teach and write most about is computer programming. Programming is one of the most difficult and complicated intellectual feats people do, and learning it is difficult. It’s also exceptionally difficult to teach to beginners.

The problems that beginners find the most frustrating are the exact ones that most computer programming books and courses gloss over. These are the fundamental topics that experts take for granted, but that beginners will puzzle over and often give up over — because no one teaches them.

If you’re a web developer, think back to the first time you started making a web page. Writing the HTML markup code is easy. Understanding the syntax is doable. But, no one teaches you how to upload your site to the web or what it means to upload a site to the web. Without this critical piece of information, you can’t make web sites. But, if you look at most beginning web development books, you’ll find very little or no coverage of it at all.

With our first live course, starting Wednesday, our goal is to start from ground zero, as experts who remember what it’s like to be a beginner, and teach the fundamentals to actual beginners. Our ideal students will be people who interact with web developers professionally, but who have never done web development themselves. Perhaps they’re considering hiring a web developer to build their business web site, but don’t know much about what web developers do or how to hire them.

The course is titled “Fire Your Nephew and Build Your Own Website.” The idea behind the course is to empower business owners or web development clients with the skills to build their own website, so that they’re not at the mercy of their nephew who “knows computers” or their web design consultant. Even if you choose to continue outsourcing your web design work after the class, you’ll come away from it with the knowledge you need to be able to successfully manage your own web projects and to know what you’re getting for your money.

We’re all beginners, not dummies.

What Do We Mean By ‘The Beginner’s Mind’?
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