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How self learners get it wrong


The best programmers are resourceful. As a consultant, I’ve taken projects where I didn’t know the language or framework. The only solution is to bulldoze the knowledge at break neck speeds. Googling and reading documentation is not just a good skill, it’s a requirement.

I love this rap game mainly cause it's cool
To add a little spice to the life you've been through
Everyone exaggerates a tiny little bit
Make that shit sound more gangster than it really is
Fort Minor - Cigarettes

Rappers talk up how gangster their childhood was. Coders talk up how self learned their knowledge was. Everything I said was true, while being equal parts shit.

Imagine two people test driving a car. One an experienced driver, the other a first time driver. Sure the first person should google her questions (where’s the trunk button), but the second should not (how to change lanes into merging traffic). We need to be wiser and treat these people differently. Too often I see programmers lugging heavy loads up the stairs, never realizing they missed the point: press the elevator button.

How do you teach self learning?

Instead of learning completely on your own, make it a process. If you were my student, I’d start you off with a rigid structure. Once you felt comfortable, I’d encourage you to google bite-sized problems. We’d develop this skill until you reach full independence inside that framework. The key is to cultivate independence over time, not do everything on your own.

Crawl, walk, run.

How can I do it in my school?

Find a mentor or go to school. Use google and stackoverflow as a supplement inside a structured course. As you get comfortable, push your boundaries by asking your teacher for support on a personal project of yours. Once you establish strong fundamentals, venture off and learn a new framework on your own.

The key point is to use your teacher as a support system to validate your growth.

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