“Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do.”
– Bruce Lee
Something will stick in our brains if we read a book about webdesign. Let’s (generously) say it’s 30% of the information. We will be able to have a converstation with a web designer and, because we know some of the lingo, in the future we will be able to extract more value from blog posts, books and talks on this topic.
But it’s in the 70% we miss (or forget about) where the actual usefulness of the book was: The skill on how to design something for the web.
And this skill can (for most) only be obtained by practice. The theory is a guide but it’s not perfect. It was written to reach many people and it’s unlikely we are entirely like them. There’s something special, quirky about us that needs to be addressed.
Perhaps the book is even outdated. Technology moves fast.
But the biggest reason is determined by the way our brains work. We have to make the theory real for ourselves by practice.
Realness requires a change of perspective. Switching our role from learner to applier is such a change.
Often it’s physical. We go through the motions. We move our body. When we interact with the world can we verify if our knowledge is complete enough.
For instance, it’s very easy to say that we know about gardening. We take some vague notions, some snippets of knowledge and store them in our memory with a “mastered that” label. But when we try to take care of our garden, when we try to apply the knowledge we must take off that label and check if it was justified. We will most likely see that it was not. The label was hiding gaps in our understanding.
By doing we find the questions to ask to fill those gaps.
Naturally, this is why textbooks often have self-test questions at the end of a chapter.
Finally, let us remember that talking counts as well. Explaining something to another is a fantastic way to verify and deepen our own understanding.
There is another step that seems natural to take: Imitation, but let’s talk about it in another post.
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