How To LearnI’ve had a lot of school in my life. 12 years of primary education, 5 years of undergraduate level education, 2 years of graduate school education, 7 semesters of calculus, and even a few programming classes since then. In all those hours, I have learned a few things, but the most important things were learning how to learn.
A high school degree (US) or an undergraduate degree (BS/BA) doesn’t really teach you a lot of practical skills, IMHO. However what they subtlety teach you is how to learn. You have to develop the skills more and more to teach yourself, research, analyze information. Those are the skills you will need as you move into a career. Even engineers, who learn a larger percentage of skills in skill, need to learn more in the workplace, and successful students tend to have an easier time picking things up later.
Not that average/below average students can’t. Sometimes it’s just finding something that brings out your passion, which often isn’t school.
How I LearnSo how do I learn? As much as I like lectures, and I listen to many of them at SQL Saturdays or other conferences, it’s not necessarily helping me learn or build a skill. It increases my knowledge base, gives me the ability to think more laterally when confronting issues or searching for a solution, and it inspires/excites me. It gets the juices flowing.
However to actually learn something, to build a skill, I need to do. I typically learn by actually writing SQL statements. Setting up mirroring, testing restores. Those skills, just like muscle memory from performing a task, are built for me by repetition and practice.
That’s one reason that I have taken relatively few classes in my career. Taking a week out and being immersed in something like VB or SQL hasn’t helped me nearly as much as having hours a day across months to actually write code and try to solve a problem. This blog, at least the T-SQL parts, have tended to be focused on rebuilding those skills for me. Practicing things that are new, or that I haven’t spent much time on.
I prefer working with books to classes, but it’s the same thing for me. I retain some snippets from books, but if I don’t practice the skills, actually get hands on time, I haven’t learned much.
How You LearnI don’t know. I think you have to try some different things and then evaluate if they work. If you attend a class, see if you use those skills across the next couple months. Did you really learn something? Try something you learned a couple weeks afterwards. Did it stick? If not, try something else. Read about it and do the same test. Work through examples from a blog post/article/book/class, and see if that helps.
Learn how you learn. It’s one of the most valuable things you’ll ever do.