Apprenticeship Patterns: Dig Deeper

For the final reflection of my Apprenticeship Patterns series, I’ve decided to choose Dig Deeper from Chapter 6: Construct Your Curriculum. This pattern suggests that you stay conscious of the fact that, as an engineer, you’ll be forced to learn new concepts at a sometimes alarming rate. As a result of this, you’ll likely only learn things at a relatively shallow level of understanding. That is, you’ll only have time to learn what is necessary in order to complete your current task. While this seems like enough, it often can result in issues (bugs and more) in what you’re working on — and it’s limiting your own potential growth at the same time. The solution is to remain vigilant. Put in the work required in order to fully understand a tool. The system, and you, will benefit in the long run if you put in the effort now to learn things properly. Dig into the depths of every concept you’ll be using so you can use it properly.

I’m graduating this month and that means that I’ll be out of formal education for some time. While I do intend to return for a master’s level degree, that won’t be for some time still. And, while I know I’ll be learning a tremendous amount in the workplace, there is still so much more that I want to learn over the next few years that I may not get on the job. It’s the start of my CS career, and I’d like to hit the ground running. I need to make sure that I dedicate time to learning more theoretical concepts at a deep level.

The book draws a distinction between those programmers who have achieved deep understanding over a concept vs. those who haven’t by identifying those who create piles of rubble, and those who create cathedrals. We have a set of tools at our disposal — it’s really easy to use them to create throw things together and construct something that has functionality that is limited to strictly function. However, it’s the true sign of a craftsmen when one can use those same tools in order to create something beautiful. That is exactly what digging deep into each tool you learn can give you, and it’s something I’m going to focus on going forward into my career as a software craftsman.

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