Path =$Path:/usr/local/aha-moment

I’ve always considered myself an intelligent individual with a penchant for learning languages. I excelled in my high school Spanish and Japanese courses, the Arabic that I studied in the Army, right down to my Duolingo French lessons. I didn’t expect computer languages to be any different. I was wrong.

I have found studying JavaScript and Ruby much more challenging than originally anticipated. I was lulled into a false sense of security in the beginning with exercises like finding “my_name”.length and pretending to be amazed that typing in 4 + 5 returned 9. I hit a wall once concepts became more abstract. I knew on one side of my brain that a Ruby object could be thought of to represent a real world object; I memorized that but I couldn’t seem to absorb what that meant. Reading definitions of these types of ideas began to look like:

Smurf: describes a smurf smurfing something in a smurfy sort of way.

My aha moment on how to achieve aha moments came some where toward the end of The Well-Grounded Rubyist by David A. Black. I went through the motions of reading the beginning of the book, though it was review, just in case there were any new tidbits to pick up and I found that I was much further along in the book than I would have expected before my eyes started to glaze over. Repetitions of abstract concepts in different words with different examples helped me to start to cement these ideas in my mind. I assumed this is why in addition to the excellent presentation of lessons at Viking Code School they often offer several additional resources that either explain ideas in more depth or in different ways for different learning styles.

I finally understood that it was not wasted time that I have spent with my eyes dancing over words on the screen that didn’t soak in. It wasn’t that I wasn’t learning, it was that I had just not yet mastered the ideas. Now I make it a practice to read each lesson over twice: once for “pleasure” and once for content. If needed, I head over to Stack Overflow which can always be counted on for a simplified explanation with a few examples and some snarky comments.

Some new concepts may still be challenging but they are no longer intimidating.

What learning tips have worked for you?

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