Apprenticeship Pattern: Practice, Practice, Practice

This week I read the pattern “Practice, Practice, Practice” and the focus of this pattern is pretty obvious. An expected theme that I came across when reading this pattern was the importance of practice itself, but the author went beyond that and specified the type of practice that is most valuable. The technique of practice that is optimal is said to be “deliberate practice” in which “ a mentor would assign you an exercise based on her understanding of your strengths and weaknesses…”. This method of practice is good because the exercises that you are practicing with match your skill level and most important of all, you are receiving feedback. Depending on your performance, this mentor would then decide whether or not increase the difficulty of the exercises. I can see the value in practicing like this, a big thing stopping me and many others from going back and practicing is how boring and mundane it is and this method ensures that you are amply challenged.

Another aspect of practice that the author mentions that you don’t often hear about is relaxation. The author says “if you aren’t relaxed you’re not going to learn from the practice”, in my experience this could not be anymore true. The practice that you are doing should be relaxing, it should be done without a deadline in an environment where you can break things without consequence.That brings me back to the level of challenge once again, this is because the practice should be done at a difficulty where you can learn but not too difficult that you get frustrated. Having learn how much being relaxed helps in the learning process I intend to use this going forward. The goal is to get to the point where you enjoy your practice sessions if you do not then you should likely change how you are practicing, and if that still fails then it could be because you don’t really enjoy the thing you are practicing.

The other major point that the author hit upon was feedback, this topic has been addressed in other patterns throughout the book and this is because of how important it really is. Yes it is true that practice makes you better, but practicing the wrong this will make you better at the wrong thing. Feedback is important because it makes sure that while you are practicing you are doing things right and developing good habits.

This pattern has reinforced to me the importance of practice, but more than that it’s showed me the importance of CORRECT practice. I plan on implementing this pattern not only throughout my software career, but on any skill that I want to develop in the future.


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