This week I read Record What You Learn in Chapter 5, Perpetual Learning. I read this partly because I found irony in recording what I’ve learned about recording what you learn, but also largely because I’ve heard it given as advice in the past, and it is something I’d really like to put in place for myself. The pattern itself reflects on the situation where you learn something for whatever reason, be it for work, school, or personal development. However, without dedicating time towards fully understanding the concept, it doesn’t solidify and you fail to retain the information. The proposed solution is to write. Write as much as you possibly can about each and every part of your journey. Make time for it, because by simply putting concepts into your own words and jotting them down on paper (or on a blog, like this), you etch that knowledge into your head far easier than you would simply trying to absorb the information.
I’m sure we’ve all been in the position where we’ve learned something and then completely forgotten it some time later when we’re meant to recall it. Perhaps on tests, for work, or in conversation. We know that we’re familiar with it, but we seem to fail to remember it fully unless we seek to make it our own, and really feel it out. Take mathematics for example. In order to solidify a concept, you need to learn it and practice its implementation in several ways to really grasp the meaning behind it. Simply trying to absorb the information in one lecture or introduction won’t work for nearly anyone. So why, then, would it work for a theoretical concept in any field, or even something like a life lesson? You need to practice thinking it through in different ways. Writing about things does exactly that.
Part of the motivation behind starting this blog during my Software Development concentration was to have a portfolio to point to that shows what we’ve worked on during our classes. Not only that, but it was a means for connecting with the greater software development community. However I’m finding (through being more consistent with my blogging) that perhaps the most important thing isn’t any of these, and that the majority of the benefit has come through the act of journaling about what I’m learning. Everything I have learned and written about, I feel like know well. Coming from someone who felt extremely awkward about blogging when I started, this was an interesting change of heart — and a welcome one at that.