Apprenticeship Patterns

Apprenticeship Patterns: Guidance for the Aspiring Software Craftsman by Dave Hoover and Adewale Oshineye introduced me to the concept of an apprenticeship pattern. The first thing I thought of when I read the title of the book was the Gang of Four patterns that I became very familiar with in my previous semester. It is not surprising to me that many different work concepts and processes can be summarized by different patterns. Humans are pretty habitual, and we are good at finding out what works. With this in mind, I have a great amount of faith in the value and usefulness of these patterns.

The chapters following the introduction begin to introduce us to some of these patterns. The patterns that were introduced all have a lot in common. The most important thing seems to be the willingness and the drive to learn, independently of an instructor or master. Another important concept is the ability to get rid of preconceived notions and past knowledge that may not be as relevant or helpful as one might think. Wanting to learn and having to learn are two different processes and they will have different effects on your progress overall.

The short story about the master and the student at the beginning of Chapter 2 did a great job at illustrating an issue I run into a lot, being that it is hard to learn new things when you already know so much about something. Your previous knowledge definitely colors your perspective of new, similar things, and it can lead to a lot of dangerous assumptions. As scientists and engineers, we should never be making assumptions!

Another concept that showed up time and time again was not being afraid to fail. This idea is really close to me, as I have always believed that you learn a lot more from terrible failure than monumental success. There is so much value in learning how things can go wrong. That’s why chapter five definitely stood out for me. Anyone who thinks there is nothing more to learn will avoid all knowledge to prove themselves right. Every person you meet, whether you consider them above your level or below, has some new knowledge and information to offer from their experiences.

Overall, I think the book is a well-researched and accurate observation about the patterns of work and learning that fall behind “apprenticeships.” We can use these patterns to better understand how we work, as well as where our work can go wrong. Once we are able to acknowledge things about yourself such as your skill level, knowledge, and experience you can perform better and learn to learn so you can be the best version of you. You can’t improve until you know what improvement you are capable of.

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