Are You Learning Too Much?

Are You Learning Too Much? image

Great software developers never stop learning. They're always deepening or widening their knowledge. In a field as fast-moving as programming, learning is essential to stay relevant and, some people forget, to keep a career interesting and dynamic.

Learning has undergone a drastic transformation since the development of the Internet. Gone are the dusty tomes we used to learn from. Today, much of learning happens through bite-sized, self-paced modules that are well-explained, professionally made, and easy to digest. Learning is no longer something to dread. On the contrary, it's become addictive.

And that's where it becomes dangerous. It's where learning turns into a form of procrastination, where we avoid doing what we're learning about in favor of learning just a little more about it.

For example, you can learn all there is to know about JavaScript through tutorials, guides, and courses, and still not be any good at it. At some point, you'll need to step away from those controlled environments and build something from scratch on your own, without any help.

We keep learning because we believe we're not ready yet. It's our impostor syndrome whispering to us. We tell ourselves that we're not ready to make the jump yet, even though no one ever feels entirely ready before they do. We think we need another tutorial, something that's easy, just one more.

The reality is that you learn the most when you do the real thing. As a developer, you need to code. No training wheels. It's much harder to write JavaScript than it is to learn about it. In addition, you'll feel frustrated, annoyed, and it won't always be fun.

But that's the point. Those emotions tell you what you already understand and what you don't. They offer valuable information that you can use to direct your learning. Are you struggling with this? Learn about it quickly, then try working with it again.

Don't fool yourself into thinking you're learning when you're not doing the real thing. It's quite possible you're wasting your time. Tutorials, guides, and courses are useful as an introduction or a clarification, but real learning happens when you dive in deep. Knowledge is only power when it's applied.


Thomas De Moor / learning