Apprenticeship Patterns: Introduction

In my Software Development capstone class this semester, we’re reading Apprenticeship Patterns: Guidance for the Aspiring Software Craftsman by Adewale Oshineye and Dave Hoover. I’ve read the first chapter and the introductions for chapters 2-6, and I’m hooked on this book so far.

In the introduction chapter alone, several ideas really jumped out at me. The authors encourage the reader to place emphasis on self development, preparing themselves to go out and confront the world as opposed to seek to change the world as a route for their success. They talk highly of personal responsibility and “lowering” oneself to the status of apprenticeship until those with greater achievements in the hierarchy of craftsmanship recognize the apprentice’s work. To revel in the fact that you are in the phase of your life where your primary goal is to learn and hone your skills. “This is a time for you to delay your ambitions of immediately maximizing your earning potential in order to maximize your learning opportunities.” Personally, I find genuine comfort in feeling that an apprentice doesn’t need to put on airs in order to look like they know more than they do. A willingness to grow will show for itself, and in practicing that mentality you will find yourself to be a capable and skilled craftsman in no time.

Each chapter in the book outlines a group of “patterns” that can be followed along one’s journey from apprentice to master. I think they’re all full of genuine wisdom so I figured I’d give an outline of each:

Chapter 2, “Emptying the Cup”, contains patterns regarding letting go of the knowledge you’ve gained as to allow yourself to learn as much as possible during your apprenticeships. Chapter 3, “Walking the Long Road”, is about saddling yourself up for the journey ahead. Understand that there are others who are further along the road than you are, and accept that. The only way that you reach that same spot is to keep walking the path that they have previously tread. Chapter 4, “Accurate Self-Assessment”, is similar to “Emptying the Cup”, except this time it is for the purpose of preventing yourself from getting too comfortable. Never become complacent in what you’ve learned — there’s always more to know. Chapter 5, “Perpetual Learning”, is a direct follow up to Chapter 4 because once you’ve assessed yourself, you know that there is more to learn. This chapter discusses techniques for continued learning and the extreme importance of it along the career of a software craftsman, in particular. Finally, Chapter 6, “Construct your Curriculum”, offers advice for the apprentice seeking further education. While resources on the internet are great, acquiring a library (of sorts) of books written by master craftsmen will always offer material that just cannot be found elsewhere. On top of this, it’s important to actually read the material that you acquire. Creating a curriculum, quite literally, to chip away at the vast material at your fingertips will help amplify your skills perhaps more than anything else.

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