I have a friend who loves applied math and physics, but hates programming. She is learning python right now because she thinks it's helpful in getting a math-related job, and her mom forces her to learn programming despite how much she hates it. I suggested to not go into a career that involves doing things she hates, but she said that she likes her career decision. It's just the programming part of it that she doesn't like. She also said she never had a choice because of the expectation from her family and the necessity of programming in math-related careers.


I feel really sad for her. Knowing that she has no choices, I tried helping her enjoy programming, so that even though she still has to program, she wouldn't find it boring.

What I have tried

This question is similar to How to teach a person to enjoy programming? But it is different because my friend doesn't like the things she made. People in the other question suggested that it is the products that make programming enjoyable. But she is saying that she doesn't like the products either. She would rather solve problems by hands than to have a program that solves problems for her, because she thinks using programs to solve problems feels like cheating, and prefers to solve problems in a more elegant algebraic way.

I also got her to make some simple programs that do simple tasks like counting the significant digits, and rewriting numbers in scientific notations, but she couldn't see any real-life applications of them.

What I'm looking for

  • Some physics or math projects with real-life applications that she can make with python. (She likes university-level physics and math, but is still a beginner in python)
  • Any other ways that can make her not hate programming
  • Maybe some things to say to let her know the fun parts of programming
  • $\begingroup$ I'm not sure you are approaching this correctly. Has she asked for your help? You cannot "make" someone enjoy something. Should your question be reworded to ask what parts of programming could be fun (although I think that is opinion based) or something else? $\endgroup$
    – Rory Alsop
    Commented Jan 3, 2020 at 10:49
  • $\begingroup$ @RoryAlsop Yes, she has asked me to teach her how to program, and during my teaching, I noticed that she doesn't like programming at all. How should I approach it then? She said that she has no choice but to learn it, so I thought maybe making her not hate it is the best approach? $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 3, 2020 at 17:26
  • $\begingroup$ @Buffy Partially, I mentioned that link in my question, too. In the "What I have tried section". The answers in that link didn't quite work for her. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 3, 2020 at 17:29
  • $\begingroup$ @Buffy I have edited the question to make it more clear that it is different $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 3, 2020 at 17:41

1 Answer 1


I don't normally answer questions that I've voted to close, but I'll make an exception here. I think your quest is doomed. Sorry.

I also think that pressing is just going to make it worse. Perhaps you can impress that on the mother.

One can be successful in applied math or physics without programming. It is a helpful tool, but not essential for everything. She can be a success without it, most likely.

But, the time will, perhaps, come when she needs to use programming to solve some problem that really drives her interest. That is the time that you might be of help, but not now. It is now just a distraction. Wait for the need to become obvious to her.

In Tai Chi we learn to be soft in our actions and movements. But that doesn't mean they are ineffective.


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