Pattern 8 – Record What You Learn

I decided to read “Record What You Learn” for this week’s post. This one is pretty self explanatory, record what you learn. The pattern says to do just this, and explains that this is a way to review key learnings throughout your journey of software development craftsmanship. The pattern also notes that it is important to not let your writings become a graveyard for what you have learned. By this, they mean that you should consistently go back and review what you’ve written in the past to possibly amend the posts, or to find links to other notes you have written.

I agree that this is a very valuable “study” technique and it works for all facets of learning. The most difficult part of this, is that this is a very time intensive way to remember everything. As you learn more, the bigger the library of written lessons gets. This mean that every time you learn something, that review session gets longer. I think that this means that it is important to acknowledge that you simply will have to relearn things from time to time, but documenting what you’ve learned for higher level topics, is a great way to save time in the future.

While I do see how this could be difficult for an individual who is learning vastly different and often irrelevant topics when compared to each other, this is definitely something that can be used as part of a company project wiki. Large companies are constantly hiring new personnel who have to play catch-up to learn a code base as well as the coding styles of their peers. Having some sort of blog or wiki for the project could help these new-hires get acquainted with how the company functions and how to solve problems that are specific to the particular stack and business logic that the company is utilizing.

I do not know if I see myself personally following this advice, because this is not really my learning style. I tend to learn something by repetition instead of documenting what I’m doing. However, I do recommend that anyone who learns well via methods like flash cards, studying notes, etc, give this method of learning a try. It could be quite useful to someone who succeeds` when applying these learning methods.

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