A little while ago, I decided to poke my nose in my old chemistry book. I asked myself if I could learn anything from a textbook on my own. I tried to read how to determine specific gravity, but my mind kept wanting to just get to the end where I was supposed to magically know it. That's how it worked in high school right? Well, as I hit the end, I did what all old people do and said, “I can't do this!”
Frustrated, I had a word with myself and discovered that I was not trying to learn, I was trying to get it over. In school it was all just sorta handed to me, and by paying half-attention I was able to understand it from the excessive amount of time it was reiterated, however, as my own teacher this approach assures failure.
I started over and took the time to visualize the action of the step and try to understand the purpose of each sentence in the instructions. I can't say that knowing how to find out the specific gravity of diet coke is a useful skill in everyday practice, but it does show me that I had a problem of focusing on results instead of understanding the processes.
Using this understanding, I again approached a relatively simple concept in GIMP. The first go through I didn't get the desired affect because I didn't want to learn how it was done, I just wanted it done. Thinking I would not need this skill again, I followed the instructions without focusing on their purpose and did not get the desired affect. On the second attempt I read the instructions carefully, tried to understand the diagrams completely, and treated the information as something that I need, want, and definitely would be using in the future. The effect was exactly as described in the instructions and when I decided I wanted the picture slightly different, I was able to call upon the knowledge learned without again needing to consult the tutorial.
My little experiment was fueled by treating the information in the tutorials as forbidden knowledge that I was stealing from the books, for which I only had this one chance to read, understand, and memorize. It is a lot easier to understand after reading my favorite shirt “knowledge is power; power corrupts; go to school, be evil”. In other words, it is much easier to learn something when I treat the derived knowledge as unknown by most and a powerful tool to those who know it, thus giving me power over that field of study.
Results are obviously desirable, but without patience to temper the understanding of the processes to get there, there can be no results, so this little session of discovering the right effort toward learning may have taught me the secret to developing real skill in any endeavor.
I hope this little essay has helped someone reading it, and I look forward to comments of shared experiences, so that I may further refine this explanation for the benefit of others and myself.
5 years, 11 months ago
25 Aug 2013 04:31 CEST