Apprenticeship Patterns – Share What You Learn

The problem of this pattern is one of the final ones, as far as I can tell. It is framed around your near-completion as a developer. I mean this in the sense that you’re a rounded-out developer with a lot of useful skills, but not necessarily a significant amount of real-world experience. In order to truly become a journeyman, you need effective communication skills. It isn’t enough to be a good programmer.

In order to gain such skills, the proposed way is to share that which you have learned. One such way is via a blog such as the one you’re currently reading. I pretty much completely agree with this pattern. I think the best way to learn things is to explain them to someone else. Really, the reason that we are tasked to write large essays in high school and college, despite them being annoying, is because writing is thinking. If you are capable of reading these words, then you’re most likely literate. Modern people take literacy for granted. For millions of years, the vast majority of humans were illiterate and as such their brains developed in a different manner to ours.

According to a discussion with Psychologist Jordan Peterson (that I unfortunately cannot find to link here), illiterate people think differently than literate people. Illiterate people think more in images and experiences, similar to how animals think. (Don’t let your arrogance get the better of you; all humans are animals biologically.) Words themselves are abstractions and your brain has to handle abstractions differently. It has to convert from symbols and sounds to the word to the meaning of the word. I would say that tribes of people that rely heavily on the oral are similarly affected. Nonetheless, literacy has a profound effect on your brain and thus how you learn. Writing is a form of thinking. Literate people have the ability to write or type words without really planning it in their minds, similar to how people can speak without thinking. The words are the thinking. So, when you explain something, you need to find the words to describe it and that process is thinking.

That’s why written words can be so messy; we think through them as we write. Thoughts are messy. So, it is essential to be an effective communicator not only to benefit others. Ignoring the existence of other people, being an effective communicator means you are an effective thinker. This is specifically in terms of words, which I would argue programming requires. The concepts dealt with in programming require intense mental abstractions that most of us take for granted. There’s a reason the general population thinks coding is magic. It’s simply too abstract to fully grasp from a single viewing. This means words are the way we handle that abstraction. Thus, make yourself powerful with words in order to become powerful in your actions as a programmer.

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