Why it’s important to ask the right questions.
If you only do what you know you can do — you never do very much
The past week was my first week in the immersive bootcamp at HackerYou. A few days ago I found myself in a conversation while getting coffee with some of my fellow classmates. We were talking about the fear of asking questions that might make us seem potentially unqualified to be there, and more specifically, fear of making simple mistakes in our code that we may feel embarrassed to share. I decided to reflect on this more deeply over this past weekend.
Sometimes when learning new skills it can be intimidating to ask question about seemingly simply concepts or problems(especially in smaller groups). I speak for myself here, but it seems to me that this anxiety is rooted in maintaining the image of competency amongst peers. Nobody wants to look stupid. Unfortunately in the programming world this can end up costing us in development time further down the line.
For example, consider a large, multi-page website involving many different classes, ids, flourishes, images of different sizes…etc. In this case, as the initial structure of the website becomes more complicated fixing underlying issues in the code can become a headache, and ultimately, more time consuming. Asking questions, and structuring those questions in the right way, can potentially save you hours of unnecessary development. Additionally the further along into the project you find yourself, the more difficult it gets to go back and make changes to the underlying fundamental structure.
Structuring your questions properly is important. The right questions can lead to many ‘eureka!’ moments where several concepts suddenly connect. Or it can lead to more questions. There is an analogy made in the novel Gödel, Escher, Bach, where knowledge is seen to be an ever expanding balloon. The interior of the balloon is what you understand, and the surface area of the balloon is a representation of the questions and things that will not be understood. As the base of understanding of any subject you try to learn expands, the number of questions and things you don’t understand compound. So do yourself a favour and ask away!