An Empty Mind is a Happy Mind

7th September 2021

I've been asked to do some certifications for work for various technologies and the learning process for this consists of watching hours of slow-paced videos and memorising loads of details.

In the exams you are not allowed to use books or the internet as that would be "cheating".

But I think trying to stuff all the knowledge into your brain is stupid. Books and Wikis etc are a much better way to store knowledge than storing it in your head.

Much better is to focus on learning the concepts of what the technology is and what it can be used for, and familiarizing yourself with the documentation so you know how to find the bits you need.

Teaching people to store everything in their head is actually stupid and wrong. In the work-place you shouldn't be working based on something you memorised a year ago when doing a certification, you should be working from documentation so that you are actually using the most up-to-date methods and not unduely stressing your mind by memorising huge amounts of boring shit.

Really my favourite way to learn is to get a big reference book about the technology and just skim-read though it. This would mean that I know what things the technology can do and where I can find the information without trying to memorise all the boring details.

And there should never be a test where you're not allowed to use books because it's completely un-representative of how you should actually be working. In real work you should be referring to documentation.

Don't look at my work!

Tangentially, do you remember at school how you're supposed to do your own work and not copy someone else's? I've actually worked with people that seem to think it works like this in the work-place. I'd ask them something about what they're working on and they'd get all protective of it and act like I should mind my own business.

This is one of the really stupid bad habits that school teaches to people. The real work-place requires people to actually work together towards a common goal. Trying to make everything into private projects is really unhelpful and makes for an awful atmosphere and terrible knowledge-transfer.