“Practice, Practice, Practice” Apprenticeship Pattern

I am writing this blog post about the “Practice, Practice, Practice” apprenticeship pattern from the Apprenticeship Patterns book. To summarize the idea of this pattern, it is about the desire to improve and learn despite not having the opportunity to do so while working. The obvious solution that the book presents is to practice on your own time, while not working. Practicing something is certainly important; the process of practicing working with some idea is actively developing experience with that topic, rather than just reading about it and recognizing it. I have spent a lot of time reading about many different algorithms, and a lot of it does not really stay until I make it relevant by directly implementing it myself. The only consequence of doing this is educational, though; doing this while working would not be the appropriate time. Practice generally does not yield some purposeful product, whatever it is that is created in the end is only for the sake of experience. The book brings up a point about practicing the wrong things. I think this can be important. I have spent a lot of time practicing trying to write programs using the fewest amount of characters possible, which for obvious reasons is not a good way in general to go about programming. The result is typically a barely readable mess of what amounts to glorified machine code. I became good at it, but certainly the time would have been much better spent practicing something more practical than code golf. After gaining a lot of experience with different topics that I found interesting, I have been able to recognize situations where things I have practiced in the past are relevant and knew how to implement them as a solution. What I have noticed along the way is that now I would rather spend my time applying what I know than taking the time to practice something new and not produce anything meaningful. I still am interested in learning about a lot of things, but practice takes a lot of time, so the only way to learn is to take the extra time.

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