O'Reilly logo

Apprenticeship Patterns by Adewale Oshineye, Dave Hoover

Stay ahead with the world's most comprehensive technology and business learning platform.

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required

Study the Classics

Discover the great literature in your profession or area of interest—the finest books, articles, and speeches ever written—and then begin an earnest study of these works.

Joshua Kerievsky in “Knowledge Hydrant: A Pattern Language for Study Groups”[39]

Context

You are self-taught, or had a highly practical education that valued skills training over theory.

Problem

The experienced people you collaborate with are constantly referencing concepts such as Brooks’ law from books that they assume you—and any self-respecting software developer—have read.

Solution

Expose Your Ignorance and ask about the unknown concept and the book it came from. Add this book to your Reading List.

Joshua Kerievsky once asked Jerry Weinberg how he keeps up with all the books that come out. Jerry said, “Easy—I only read the great ones” (Refactoring to Patterns, p. 33). By Reading Constantly and Reflecting as You Work, you will, like Jerry, eventually be able to “only read the good ones.” When you pick up a book and the first thing you wonder is how out of date it is, you’re reading the wrong kind of books. Successful apprentices tend to focus on “long-lived books” and use the Web or experimentation to learn how the information has evolved. Dave remembers vividly the experience of reading his first classic in this field, The Psychology of Computer Programming, and marveling at how relevant the book felt, despite the stories of punch cards and room-sized computers. The wisdom captured in such classics is vital information to keep you heading in the right direction on The Long Road.

One danger of focusing on the classics is taking it too far and abandoning the more pragmatic knowledge and information that enables you to improve your day-to-day craftsmanship. Be sure to intermingle classics with modern, pragmatic books and/or articles in your Reading List.

Action

What is the oldest book in your pile? Read that one first. The next time you’re flicking through another developer’s book collection, take note of the oldest books and ask the developer why she still owns them.

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, interactive tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required