Jean-Nicholas Hould On Data Science

Learning to Learn

“Don’t let education get in the way of learning.” - Mark Twain

Today I attended my first Learning Lab. These two-hour long weekly workshops hosted by Adam Lupu, resident Learning Architect at Starter League (SL), aim at teaching Starters to be better learners. At first, I was kind of hesitant about going to this event. I mean, what can I learn there that is worth sacrificing two precious hours of coding? I decided I would give it a try and I’m pretty impressed by the result. Here are my four take-aways from this first lab:

  1. Set goals and constantly review them.

    Setting goals is a great way of reflecting on what kind of outcome you want of a certain process. As a student at Starter League I am in a three month programming training process. What do I want out of it? Do I want to be a software developer or do I want to start a business? The answer will greatly affect my time allocation. I better be investing my time towards what I want. As you know, time is a scarce resource.

  2. Surround yourself with people of all levels.

    I feel pretty lucky being taught Ruby & Rails by Jeff Cohen, a PragProg author that is well-known in the Ruby community. But, learning isn’t only about having experts teaching you new concepts. Learning is also about being a teacher and helping other people out. It’s about working with other people sharing complementary skill sets. As part of a learning process you better be surrounding yourself with people of different levels, not only experts, in order to progress.

  3. Re-shape what you know.

    Learning is hard. Unlearning is harder. In order to learn, you need to forget some bad habits. My keyboard typing isn’t great. I’m having a hard time using all of my fingers while typing. For the last weeks, I’ve been trading off my typing speed in order to learn to type the right way.

  4. Reflecting on learning is time well-invested.

    This isn’t limited to learning. Spending time reflecting and getting feedback on any process is time well-invested. This process can either be the development of a product (ever heard of Lean Startup and Customer Development?) or the method you are coding (ever heard of Test-Driven Development?). Do yourself a service. Take a step back and reflect on what you are doing, you won’t regret it.