By John Sonmez December 10, 2015

What Is Your Learning Style?

In this episode, I talk about my learning style.

 

Full transcript:

John: Hey, John Sonmez from simpleprogrammer.com. I got this question about my learning style. This question goes, “Hey, John. You should probably make a video answer of this because it's something that a lot of people can take inspiration from, and that is: What is your learning style when you're learning everything about a new domain, not just programming? Do you always take notes or you use mnemonics to retain things? Do you follow complete video courses before making practice MVPs such as apps and what are your methods on effective learning techniques? By effective learning techniques, I'm referring to that mindset which is about being motivated enough to engage consistently in productive followup activities to lessons and actually learning from them, committing things to memory, etc. Keep smiling.”

Good question here. I'm going to have to point you—I actually created an entire course on how to learn. It's called 10 Steps to Learn Anything Quickly. I believe I'm selling it for 97 bucks right now and you get access to the full course. I go through step by step and show you exactly what my learning process is and how I learn. I'm going to kind of try to summarize it here and talk a little bit about learning style.

First of all, there's not really such thing as learning styles. This was something that—a myth that was perpetuated from some flawed study where they said, “Some people are audio learners, some people are visual and some people are hands-on learners.” As they actually did some future studies, they found out—I don’t have the site but you can check it out in my soft skills book. I think I've got a link to it there. Essentially, it turns out that we're all doer. We all learn by doing, by action, right?

Yes, some people might be able to—might like be more interested in audio or visual, or whatnot, but we all actually learn—the best way that we learn, we are all doers. We all learn by action, by doing things, by getting involved. That's the key to learning, is doing it as far as learning styles go. It's more than just learning styles.

When I'm trying to learn something and this is kind of a summary of that 10 Steps program, basically, what I do is I first determine what it is I'm trying to learn. I determine the scope. I try to make that scope fairly small. I can't learn everything about astronomy, but I can learn about Mars. You know what I mean? I can't learn everything about C# or some programming language, but I can learn a subset of that information in order to do something. That's the second thing is I determine what my goal is.

Everytime you learn something, if you learn something and it doesn’t have a purpose, then your risk of actually losing that information is very, very high. It also becomes really difficult to learn. When we learn things because we—out of necessity because we need them to do something, that's when we really learn them and that's when we get the most value from them.

Don’t just learn a programming language to learn a programming language. Learn it so that you can create nap with it or you got to have some kind of goal, “When I'm done learning, I'll be able to do such and such thing. This is my goal. This is why I'm learning.” If you don’t have a “why,” then it's going to be hard to motivate yourself and it's going to be hard to keep that information. Why are you learning it? Don’t just learn things for the sake of learning them. Learn them so they enhance your life in some ways, so that you can actually do something or accomplish something with that. That's the next thing that I do.

Then what I do is essentially come up with a bunch of resources. I try to have multiple resources and I filter those resources out. I don’t want to learn just from one book or one video course. I want to learn from various pieces of information and I want to find the best resources. Some of them might be books. Some of them might be videos. Some of it might be talking to an expert. That's an excellent way to learn and to get some shortcuts in learning a thing. It depends on what the thing I'm trying to learn is, but there's always different sources and you want to filter those out to be the best ones.

Then I come up with a plan. “What order am I going to learn things in? What makes senses?” A lot of times, a good way to figure out a plan for learning something is go look at table of contents of like top 5 books in that subject on Amazon, and see what are the common things, how have they broken it up and what are the common occurrences. Come up with a plan. I'm going to learn this then this, and that's going to lead me to this.

Then the next thing that I do is that I go and I start executing that plan. When I execute the plan, what I do is I basically go in and I start off by just learning enough to get started. Just barely—just breezing through, it’s like you’re just skimming a chapter and then I do what's called play. I play. I play around. I fool around. I don’t know what I'm doing, but I experiment. When I was learning how to shoot my video with my digital camera, I was just playing around with it. I didn’t know what the heck I was doing. I didn’t read the manual. I just read enough to turn it on.

Then I go to the next step which is to actually learn. When you're playing around, you get a lot of questions like, “What is ISO? What is shutter speed? How does this work? What is this?” You get all these questions. You're learning a programming language, you're like, “Why does it work this way? Why doesn’t this compile?” You get all these questions and then you go back in that third step and you answer those questions. You say, “Oh, hey.” You actually read the material and you find answers to your questions. When you answer your own questions that stuff sticks in your head better than anything else. If you try and read this huge volume ahead of time and you don’t have your own questions you're going to answer, you don't know what's important. When you read a material, when you already have questions in your head because you played around with the thing that sticks in your head.

Then finally, I teach it to someone else. That's the key part to making it set. That's like when you put the Jell-O in the refrigerator and it sets, that's what makes it set in your head is when you teach it to someone else.

That's my learning process and I pretty much do that for anything that I'm trying to learn. I found that to be effective over the years. You don’t have to follow the exact process, obviously. If you do want to know the exact steps and get a workbook that goes through those steps, you can go to the Simple Programmer store and you can find the course there. I think over a couple of thousand developers have gone through that already and have had some great results.

Anyway, good question. Thanks for emailing me. If you have a question for me, email me at john@simpleprogrammer.com and don't forget to subscribe to the channel. Talk to you next time.

 

 

About the author

John Sonmez

John Sonmez is the founder of Simple Programmer and a life coach for software developers. He is the best selling author of the book "Soft Skills: The Software Developer's Life Manual."