Hello SQ3R

In reading Pragmatic Thinking & Learning, I came across a reading technique called SQ3R.

Survey – scan the table of contents and chapter summaries for an overview
Question – note any questions you have; to be answered as you read
Read – uh, read
Recite – summarize, take notes, put it in your own words
Review – Reread, expand notes, discuss with colleagues

With regard to “Recite”, it is one of the things that help etch whatever it is I’ve read into my brain.  Instead of just shoving in the info into your brain, it requires some more effort to actually process this info to produce your own output. It makes the learning process into a more active experience.

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Sheep dip training doesn’t work

Between one of my best buds and I, some of the parts below on learning is already nothing new to us. But I appreciate its being mentioned in the book. It kinda validates our perceptions on learning i.e., you’ve got to be willing to learn and no matter how hard anyone force-feeds information to you, if you yourself aren’t willing and taking up measures to learn, then nothing will happen.

Excerpts from Chapter 6: Learning Deliberately of Pragmatic Thinking & Learning

Education comes from the Latin word educare, which literally means “led out,” in the sense of being drawn forth… we don’t generally think of education in that sense… Instead, it’s far more common to see education treated as something that’s done to the learner as something that’s poured in, not drawn out.

Sheep dip training – You line up unsuspecting employees, dunk them in an intensive three-to-five-day event in an alien environment devoid of any connection to their day-to-day world, and then proclaim them to be Java developers, .Net developers, or what have you. It wears off, of course, so next year you need to have a “refresher” course another dip.

Sheep dip training doesn’t work because

  • Learning isn’t done to you; it’s something you do.
  • Mastering knowledge alone, without experience, isn’t effective.
  • A random approach, without goals and feedback, tends to give random results.

A single, intense, out-of-context classroom event can only get you started in the right direction, at best. You need continuing goals, you need to get feedback to understand your progress, and you need to approach the whole thing far more deliberately than a once-a-year course in a stuffy classroom.

More from Pragmatic Thinking & Learning

I’ve just finished reading Andy Hunt’s Pragmatic Thinking & Learning.  Currently, I’m still assimilating what I’ve picked up from the book. Long before I read the book, one practice I have is to make notes and write up some sort of summary. In the process of doing so, I identify key points and interesting ideas that I would like to share to my future self. Apparently, this practice is also encouraged in the book.

Previously, I posted about the Dreyfus model of skill acquisition. But in between then and now, I’ve picked up a lot of interesting stuff and, as suggested in the book,  I’ve even gotten myself a personal wiki for my notes.  (I’m currently using TiddlyWiki.)  Anyway, here are some excerpts from my notes (some are direct quotations from the book)…

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Dreyfus model – let novices and experts be

I’m currently reading the book Pragmatic Thinking and Learning: Refactor Your “Wetware” and I’ve just read about the Dreyfus model of skill acquisition. It basically outlines the five stages from novice to expert, and the chapter discusses the need to be more cognizant of the differences between each skill level in order to encourage growth and productivity. How you perceive things or approach a problem at the novice level is definitely different from how it would be for someone at the competent or expert levels. Without understanding the differences, we might be putting novices at situations that are simply too much for them or we might be deterring experts from being experts.

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New books: an unexpected gift

One of my colleagues gave me a gift box during our office Christmas party. Later than night, upon the prodding of one of my team mates, I opened it and was quite surprised to find that it contained 5 new books which doesn’t exactly come cheap. The first one I saw was Jerry Weinberg’s book on general systems thinking.  I’ve found it to be a recommended book in at least two or three software testing sites. And my jaw just dropped when I saw that in there.

Anyway, here’s the list of books I got:

  • An Introduction to General Systems Thinking (Silver Anniversary ed.) by Gerald M Weinberg
  • Pragmatic Thinking & Learning: Refactor Your Wetware by Andy Hunt
  • Making Things Happen: Mastering Project Management by Scott Berkun
  • Built to Last: Successful Habits of Revolutionary Companies by Jim Collins
  • Lean Thinking: Banish Waste and Create Wealth in Your Corporation by James P. Womack and Daniel T. Jones