Currently I’m somewhere in chapter 3 and already know quite a lot of things about struts (that I really like the framework is one of them – I should really try to do something Servlet-ish in the future). Chapter 3, for those that don’t know the book, is an introduction to Struts by example of a very simple online banking application.
And this gets me to the point: I’m a very practical person and I despise of doing lots of theoretical stuff. Usually I come quite soon to a point where I lose my interest because the topic gets to theoretical.
This is why I learn best using examples.
When I have to learn some database structure, I usually don’t even try to learn from the documentation. I just look at how the database is built to learn how to use it. That way, I’m doing something practical while still learning how to do the right thing. Only whhen I’m not sure somewhere, I’m going to look at the documentation.
The same thing with meetings. As soon as it gets redundant, I almose immediately lose interest. My brain hungers for more, clear information. If there is some, it just sticks. I seldom take notes and I seldom forget important stuff – just as long as it’s non redundant and somewhat visual.
So, the chapter three of the Struts-book is the optimal way for me to learn something as it’s expaining things by dissecting a complete application. This way I always know the big picture and a practical goal (the application) which helps me greatly understand and memorize the details.
And all this is the reason I so much like doing what I do at our company. Our philosphy has always been to try something out, never to think of being unable to do something, every time saying yes to some request of a potentional customer.
That way, I can always be on the lookout for practical solutions. I can always learn by example (the project I’m currently working on). In the last five years it seldom happened that I had to do something I did before. It’s learning, trying, erring, trying again all the time.
And as this is how I work best, we never failed so far to actually deliver what we promised to. From my very first CGI-script (“CGI? Never did that… but it can’t be that difficult”) over streaming satellite TV over the internet to Linux powered barcode scanners: It always worked out. And it always will.