- Series: Pragmatic Programmers
- Paperback: 288 pages
- Publisher: Pragmatic Bookshelf; 1 edition (November 7, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1934356050
- ISBN-13: 978-1934356050
- Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (88 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #125,969 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Pragmatic Thinking and Learning: Refactor Your Wetware (Pragmatic Programmers) 1st Edition
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"I’ve recommended it to anyone who will stand still long enough to listen to me. I was familiar with some of the ideas and techniques from my various readings on the science of learning, but its invaluable to have them gathered in one concise book, especially one geared towards developers."
"I’ve always been looking for something to help me improve my learning skills, but i’ve never found anything as effective as this book."
"Absolutely terrific! I’m only beginning the 3rd chapter and I’ve already found the book VERY, VERY useful. It makes me look at what I am doing and how I do it in a different light."
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Top Customer Reviews
The fault I think lies not with the material: I've read many of the largely mainstream books on creative thinking Hunt references. Many of them, like Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, are classics that are fun and absorbing in a way that's completely absent from Hunt's exposition here. If you're interested in the ideas presented in this book (i.e Right/Left mode thinking, Learning Styles, Time/Problem management, etc), the best recommendation I can give is to seek out the original titles themselves.
The problem with Pragmatic Thinking and Learning is the writing itself: colorless, detached, overly passive, and reeking of the kind of consultant-speak I believe is largely responsible for keeping too many people ostrich-like in their own code rather than questioning established methods and searching for innovative solutions to problems - often to their own professional disadvantage.
It's a shame because the ideas in Pragmatic Thinking and Learning are important - and not just for IT workers. But Hunt is not the right author - or at least the right solo author. He should have teamed up with someone who can write in a way that doesn't sound like every corporate PP presentation and workshop I've ever squirmed and nodded through.
Perhaps I'm not the right audience for Pragmatic Thinking and Learning. Twenty years ago it was more common to meet programmers who were musicians, artists or hard scientists who got in "through the back door". Maybe they (we) couldn't quote every algorithm in Knuth or write a compiler (how many people on the planet make a living writing compilers?). I'm sure a lot of us were making it up as we went along but I believe we brought something different to the IT table that in my opinion a lot of today's computer science grads lack. Ironically, I think Hunt might share my opinion on this; I just wish he'd made his argument more effectively.
I'm submerged in this kind of writing daily to make a living; the last thing on earth I want to do is read this stuff for pleasure or enlightenment. Unfortunately Hunt violates one of his own premises: for effective learning to take place there should be some element of fun.
Journey from Novice to Expert: Novices vs. Experts; The Five Dreyfus Model Stages; Dreyfus at Work - Herding Racehorses and Racing Sheep; Using the Dreyfus Model Effectively; Beware the Tool Trap; Consider the Context, Again; Day-to-Day Dreyfus
This Is Your Brain: Your Dual-CPU Modes; Capture Insight 24x7; Linear and Rich Characteristics; Rise of the R-mode; R-mode Sees Forest, L-mode Sees Trees; DIY Brain Surgery and Neuroplasticity; How Do You Get There?
Get in Your Right Mind: Turn Up the Sensory Input; Draw on the Right Side; Engage an R-mode to L-mode Flow; Harvest R-mode Cues; Harvesting Patterns; Get It Right
Debug Your Mind: Meet Your Cognitive Biases; Recognize Your Generational Affinity; Codifying Your Personality Tendencies; Exposing Hardware Bugs; Now I Don't Know What to Think
Learn Deliberatively: What Learning Is... and Isn't; Target SMART Objectives; Create a Pragmatic Investment Plan; Use Your Primary Learning Mode; Work Together, Study Together; Used Enhanced Learning Techniques; Read Deliberately with SQ3R; Visualize Insight with Mind Maps; Harness the Real Power of Documenting; Learn by Teaching; Take It to the Streets
Gain Experience: Play in Order to Learn; Leverage Existing Knowledge; Embed Failing in Practice; Learn About the Inner Game; Pressure Kills Cognition; Imagination Overrides Senses; Learn It like an Expert
Manage Focus: Increase Focus and Attention; Defocus to Focus; Manage Your Knowledge; Optimize Your Current Context; Manage Interruptions Deliberately; Keep a Big Enough Context; How to Stay Sharp
Beyond Expertise: Effective Change; What to Do Tomorrow Morning; Beyond Expertise
Photo Credits; Bibliography; Index
Hunt starts with something called the Dreyfus model, which is a way to look at how people learn and acquire new skills. You start as a Novice, someone who has little to no experience. You can follow a "recipe" to get a result, but you don't know the reasons behind much of what is being done. You're just accomplishing a task. Next comes Advanced Beginner. You can break out of the step-by-step mode a bit, but troubleshooting is still a major obstacle. Think of it as having no "big picture" of the overall subject. Stage 3 is Competent. You can start to apply your knowledge to problems you haven't encountered before, and you can figure out the context behind what you're facing. This is where the largest group of people end up. Stage 4 is Proficient, which means you need the details AND the overall picture. You can learn from the mistakes of others, and anticipate what may go wrong down the road. At the final stage, you have the Expert. These people are the ones others seek out for answers. They can "feel" whether an answer or solution will work or not, although they might not be able to tell you how they got to that point. These are the people who write books like this...
This made a lot of sense to me, and helps as I start to learn a new set of technical skills at my place of employment. It's hard to go from being proficient in one area to stepping clear back to novice again. But it's ok, and everyone has to start there. That gives me a level of comfort knowing that my confusion is normal, and is to be expected...
Throughout the rest of the book, Hunt covers various areas of the mind, how it works (or doesn't), and how it can be manipulated to be more efficient. For instance, the R-mode/L-mode discussion covers how your right and left sides of the brain process information differently. It also explains how you can inadvertently "shut down" the right side by being too analytical about something. The simple act of walking away from the problem and thinking about nothing in particular can be enough to let the right side of the brain gain access to the forefront of your attention. And quite often, the answer appears almost immediately. These chapters are heavy on practical tips and "try the following" advice, so it's not merely an exercise in acquiring knowledge. Even a handful of these ideas, properly implemented, can boost your ability to learn and perform. In my case, they already have started paying off.
The "drawback" to books like this is that everyone has a different idea about how things actually happen in the brain. Others might read this and feel that their ideas and mental frameworks are more accurate. But for the vast majority of us, we don't even stop to consider if there even *is* a framework in action. Refactoring Your Wetware is an excellent read, and will motivate you to start "thinking about thinking".
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