Learn it or don’t. The choice is yours.

glasses-272399_1280-smallTechnology is scary for a lot of people, but the biggest problem I see out there is denial (It’s not just a river in Africa! :) ).

Newbies

For people who are new to technology, the biggest problem I see is they refuse to actually read what is on the screen. I’m not talking about those stupid End User License Agreement (EULA) screens that nobody reads. I’m talking about basic instructions. If a screen says,

“Enter your username and password, then click the Login button.”

I don’t think that should be a taxing problem for anyone, but for the less computer literate, if something doesn’t go *exactly* as they expect, they go into total melt down. People just have to take a deep breath and read what is in front of them.

Techies

The situation is not always much different for many techies when they are faced with learning new skills. All those lessons you learned in your core skill-set seem to go out of the window. Things like:

  • Read the manuals.
  • Check the log files.
  • Check the vendor support website.
  • Google it.
  • Raise a support call.

Instead, people throw their toys out of the pram and decide the product/feature is rubbish and give up.

This is exactly what happened to me when I started playing with the Multitenant option. I was in total denial for ages. When I finally made the decision to sit down and figure it out it wasn’t so bad. It was just different to what I was used to.

Learning is not a spectator sport!

(Shameless use of the title of Connor McDonald’s blog, which is in itself credited to D. Blocher.)

Learning stuff is all about time. The optimizer fairy didn’t visit Jonathan Lewis one day and tell him “the secret”. If you don’t spend the time, or you give up at the first hurdle, you are never going to get anywhere. You will probably start to make excuses. I’m too old. It’s too complicated. I’ve always been rubbish at learning new stuff. I don’t have time. My company doesn’t support me. We won’t use it for another 3 years, so I’ll leave it until later. The list is endless.

Next time you are sitting in front of the TV watching some trash, ask yourself what those “smart kids” are doing at the moment?

I don’t care what you do with your life. Your choices are no more or less valid than mine. Just don’t fool yourself. Be honest. If you wanted to learn it you would. The fact you haven’t means you really can’t be bothered. :)

Cheers

Tim…

Learning to learn…

One of the things that disappoints me about all my time in education is that nobody actually taught me how to learn. Instead I had to stumble along, gradually trying to pick up what works for me. I guess I finally discovered how to learn during my PhD. What did I discover? That I learn in pretty much the same way as everyone else. Pity someone didn’t save me a few years and give me the heads-up a bit earlier. I read this quote from Dune recently,

“… because his first training was in how to learn. It’s shocking to find how many people do not believe they can learn, and how many more believe learning to be difficult.”

It’s actually pretty simple to push stuff from your short term to long term memory. All you have to do is,

  1. Read/revise a subject. Make sure you get a good understanding of the basic principles and some of the important facts surrounding the subject.
  2. About 2-3 days after learning something new, run quickly through that subject again. You don’t have to slave over it. You just have to do a quick pass through to jog your memory.
  3. After about a week of the second pass, do a third pass through the information.

In doing this, you’ve taken a very big step toward transferring that knowledge from your short term memory to your long term memory. It’s simple, but it takes effort!

But that’s just facts right? Yes, but as you learn more stuff you start to notice patterns and build relationships between those items, which help you to draw conclusions that others see as leaps of faith or moments of inspiration. Those gurus you look up to aren’t any cleverer than you. They’ve just made all the same mistakes you did, but a few years before you!

Just some idle thoughts before bed…

Cheers

Tim…

PS. If you dislike formal approaches to learning, just offer to teach a class on a topic. If you are a conscientious teacher, you will make so many passes through the information before stepping in front of your students, it will be burnt into your brain forever. :)