This week I was thrown in at the deep end. I’ve been both exhilarated and exhausted at Makers Academy, which I joined this January, and the journey has only just started. My classmates and I have witnessed each of us attempting to solve the simplest of exercises with unnecessarily complicated solutions, but our teachers have taught us more effective ways to overcome the steep learning curve. They have observed that those who help others perform better overall, placing a strong emphasis on helping one another before we approach a teacher for help. But how can that work when we’re all novices?
When we try to solve a problem on our own, the intensity with which we focus becomes the problem in itself, blinding us to what’s often an obvious solution. So now, instead of tearing my hair out for an hour, I give myself an allotted time to solve a problem (15 minutes), and if I haven’t figured it out I ask a classmate to help. I have to explain my problem to them, and the act of describing it causes a shift in focus, walking me through the code in my own words — unravelling my thinking step by step.
Having a sounding board for your confusion is a real benefit. That outside perspective is like the warm air which clears the fog. If there’s one thing to take away from the first week, I’d agree with Albert:
“if you can’t explain it simply you don’t know it well enough”