About teaching and learning

Alex Rocha

“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.” ~ Daniel J. Boorstin

Our generation learned that is wrong to say “I don’t know” and because of that we talk about topics that we don’t have any knowledge about. As a Karate teacher, in dojo (where we train) we start by presuming that the most graduate have always more knowledge. The same way, in our professional career we understand that someone who has more degrees than us or is in a more superior function, will have more experience and knowledge.

Firstly, in Karate I’ve needed to become a black-belt to realize that any of us really know what we are talking about and you’re virtuous when you know and accept this.

Didn’t need too much time until I’ve discover that this happens not only in dojo, but in life. The dojo was just some kind of instagram, where everybody show their best, or try at least. With years as a developer, I’ve noticed that people with the same experience that I have, often do not have any clue about what they are talking about. I’ve noticed that the hardworking intern was right sometimes and the software architect was wrong.

Learning something new is hard, may even hurt sometimes. We are not used to admit to ourselves that “we don’t know”. Every time you learn something new, you learn a bit more about “how you learn”. We read books, articles, watch videos, tutorials and sign to courses. And with time we forgot how to do questions. We forget how is to be insecure about what we gonna learn and just stay in the same secure path.

But what if the simplest questions are essentials? The intern still have this spirit, he is sometimes scared and insecure. He can show you how to ask questions or even remember how you did questions in the past. Like in dojo, the black belt doesn’t remember how is to be a white belt. How not punch or kick. How is to be afraid of a fight (most times) because he feels full of himself. The secret is, while he maintains a “beginner’s mind” he will be able to keep learning.

While he maintains a “beginner’s mind” he will be able to keep learning.

Teaching in Benjamin Franklin words “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn”. The way we teach is crucial to keep learning. Through teaching we start to feel insecurity again and expose ourselves from our comfort zone.

How to teach? In software development we often use concepts like “ramp up”. The junior developer has 3 months to learn and start to produce.
Just let him work at his time and grope until he finds itself the best paths to work.

Back to dojo, I let my students commit their mistakes (some of them, my past mistakes) and then something amazing happens. My students comes to me with new mistakes, mistakes that I’ve never imagined and maybe some of them that I still do. I noticed that just repeating the same things I’ve heard from my teacher is not so effective that was for me at time. That amazing movement I saw in past is not to strong or fast as I remember.
This way I understand that, because I’ve learn how my project works in 3 months not means that the new guy on project has to.

I noticed that just repeating the same things I’ve heard from my teacher is not so effective that was for me.

The person to whom we want teach something have it own way to learn. The way we teach must be sensible to this, we grown from that. Out from our comfort zone, we should do that more often in order to never stop learning.

“the day you stop learning is the day you stop living.”
~ Jesse Enkamp

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