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Re: Adult learning problem

by seattlejohn (Deacon)
on Apr 05, 2002 at 16:51 UTC ( #156984=note: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??


in reply to Adult learning problem

Interesting comment. I think many people forget, or are simply not aware in the first place, of how much time it takes to achieve mastery -- or even competence! -- in almost anything.

I marvel at how the human brain is able to take tasks that seem difficult and require huge amounts of attention at first, and internalize those with practice so that the mechanics of the task become unconscious, freeing us to focus on the more strategic issues. Unfortunately, that may give us the illusion that something is (or should be) "easy" if we're insufficiently introspective to remember what it felt like to be inexperienced in a particular domain.

Driving a car is a skill most of us probably take for granted, and do often enough that it's become almost automatic, but it takes a lot of training and practice to acquire that skill in the first place. Or writing -- think how much time we spent as children learning the basics of how to hold the pencil and draw the simple letter A! (Or whatever the equivalent in one's native language might be.) Learning to ride a bike, to play a musical instrument, to speak and understand a new language, to dance, to solve mathematical problems, to play chess or poker, to build a house, and yes, to program a computer -- none of them just magically come to you, whether you're 10 years old or 50.

I can imagine your frustration at watching your flatmate ignore this reality. I'm not sure how much you can do for him, though, if he's not willing to acknowledge that developing skills takes time and effort. I'm guessing that either he will discover that his approach is not fruitful and realize he needs to focus on the fundamentals, or -- sad but probably more likely -- decide that computer programming is not something he really wants to become proficient at after all.

Update: The observation that your flatmate doesn't want to do something 'childish' got me thinking. Children are interesting, because although they lack a lot of skills and real-world knowledge acquired through experience, they have some traits that are particularly useful in acquiring those skills and real-world knowledge in the first place: They ask "why", they try new things (except vegetables ;-), they don't worry as much about how people will perceive them. Maybe being a little childish is not such a bad thing!


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