People have always asked me: “why are you so smart?”. Well, the truth is: my intelligence and my memory are a result of the same process that leads to world-famous athletes – we practice, practice, practice. I study academically during my semesters, and I study recreationally during my vacations; a true thirst for knowledge always welcomes a refill to the chalice.
This constant flow of acquiring knowledge comes with a cost though; more often than not, I have been incorrect over and over again. However, such is life within the field of science – experimentation is the process of challenging what we know to falsehood, and seeing if its truth still holds.
Connecting this ramble to Apprenticeship Patterns, I am pleased to tell you that the pattern for this week is “Practice, Practice, Practice”. The product within is just how it’s advertised; this pattern emphasizes that beginners learn best through “doing”, by performing actions under the guidance of professionals.
I find it interesting that the idea of “practice making perfect” is challenged; the new idea becomes “practice makes permanent”. Upon further analysis, I do have to say that I agree with this confrontation of the old adage – learning techniques improperly can lead to code smells. Proper, constant feedback while learning will prevent the coding landfill from becoming overwhelmed.
Personally, I would have to slightly disagree with the idea that apprentices must rely on their own resources to practice. I understand that this self-reliance can develop an independent learning process for the apprentice; however, a true leader reduces their aid for an adept apprentice (instead of completely removing it). Sure, beginners need more attention, but lifelong guidance builds relationships and motivates crafters; it’s easier to experiment when you feel tethered to a base.
While I have always stuck to the idea of constant practice, I will consider the idea of getting more constant feedback for my future professional habits. Personally, I have always had a fear of being judged for my shortcomings (and have only confronted this fear recently). In order to become the best of the best, we must practice our katas, within a dojo of coding professionals. As seen with other patterns in the book, we must assume that we are the worst (in a positive way), and confront our ignorance. Through practice, practice, practice with breakable toys, we achieve the proficiency that we strive for.