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Sanjay Uttam Predominantly .NET

So...there isn't really any denying that there is a lot to learn.  New releases from MS, new tools from third-party provides, new libraries..whatever it may be.  It's pretty unrealistic, at least with my current brain, to be able to learn all of that stuff while still having any kind of a life.  Sure, I squeeze in a book on the subway, and my idea of goofing-off at work is going to and checking out what's late and great in .NET today.  That all said, I suspect it may be at least as important to learn how to learn as it is to do your reading and experimenting ("Do the learning" so to speak).  That sounds sort of silly and obvious to some extent, I'm sure, but it may be worth thinking about for a few minutes.  Also, this is a topic that there is considerable about of information on…an easy search* of “how to learn” gets you 365,000 results.  This is only the 4th result and it already has some fantastic insightful ideas…

The Rev. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (1832-98) wrote under the pseudoym Lewis Carroll, and is primarily known for Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. Carroll was a mathematician, photographer, inventor of puzzles and games, and wrote light verse. When he wrote on mathematics and logic it was not without whimsy, as evidenced by the following introduction to his book on Symbolic Logic. In any case, this is excellent advice on how to read any textbook.]


  1. Begin at the beginning, and do not allow yourself to gratify mere idle curiosity by dipping into the book, here and there. This would very likely lead to your throwing it aside, with the remark `This is much too hard for me!', and thus losing the chance of adding a very large item to your stock of mental delights . . .
  2. Don't begin any fresh Chapter, or Section, until you are certain that you thoroughly understand the whole book up to that point and that you have worked, correctly, most if not all of the examples which have been set . . . Otherwise, you will find your state of puzzlement get worse and worse as you proceed till you give up the whole thing in utter disgust.
  3. When you come to a passage you don't understand, read it again: if you still don't understand it, read it again: if you fail, even after three readings, very likely your brain is getting a little tired In that case, put the book away, and take to other occupations, and next day, when you come to it fresh, you will very likely find that it is quite easy.
  4. If possible, find some genial friend, who will read the book along with you, and will talk over the difficulties with you. Talking is a wonderful smoother-over of difficulties. When I come upon anything—in Logic or in any other hard subject—that entirely puzzles me, I find it a capital plan to talk it over, aloud, even when I am all alone. One can explain things so clearly to one's self! And then you know, one is so patient with one's self: one never gets irritated at one's own stupidity!

As the excerpt mentions these are suggestions for text-books…so you could easily draw a parallel to reading a technical book (as opposed to a blog, or article).  In that context and in my opinion – these suggestions are spot-on. 

My bottom line: if you’re going to put forth the effort learning, you should learn how to do it right.

*I have no qualms with google but I’m trying to get out of the habit of using the term “google” as if it is a synonym for “search”

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Posted on Thursday, June 11, 2009 8:51 AM | Back to top

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