Practice, Practice, Practice

Problem

The performance of your daily programming activities does not give you room to learn by making mistakes. It’s as if you’re always on stage.

Solution

The book suggests taking the time to practice your craft somewhere without interruptions, in an environment where you can feel comfortable making mistakes. Ideally we would use the technique “deliberate practice”, described in K. Anders Ericsson’s research: a mentor would assign you exercise based on their knowledge of your strengths and weaknesses. The mentor would help you evaluate your work and then you would work together to create the next exercise. The mentor would then use the experience of working with other students to create more challenging exercises that add small chunks of abstract knowledge that allows you to hone your strengths and correct weaknesses. Unfortunately we do not live in an ideal world and a lot of our practice on the job. The first example the text mentions is called “code kata”, which is essentially a practice session that some companies are starting to utilize for their teams. The text mentions another pattern, Breakable Toys, the ability to work on a piece of software in a stress free environment where you have control of everything. Finding new challenges and working on problems that are harder than you’re used to can help keep you master your craft.

The pattern had good advice and good information. The idea of having “code katas” seems like a good way to practice your skill and see what other people are working on. I think most developers do this already but the textbook mentioned the Breakable Toys pattern, where you take time to develop software in a stress-free and playful environment. I think it’s important to get periodic feedback, the text mentioned if you aren’t getting periodic feedback you could be developing bad habits. I think it’s important to always practice and find more challenging problems. I think having unique experiences with developing keeps an interest in the subject and avoids created burn out from seeing the same language or pattern you’re used to working with. Reading about this pattern has reminded me to try to always keep an interest in the subject by creating unique challenges,  practicing, and seeking feedback.

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