Revealing Ignorance

Hello, again fellow readers!

Today we will once again be continuing our journey into software apprenticeship patterns. From last week, we will continue on to the next pattern, Expose Your Ignorance.

This pattern is all about once you have gotten yourself onto a team where you can learn more from your fellow teammates, presumably in a job. The problem is that well… you are ignorant. You need to deliver and you have a lack of knowledge in whatever language or technology you need to be able to deliver.

The offered solution is fairly simple, ask questions and don’t be afraid to show that you are ignorant in a particular subject. You should recognize that it is human to want to appear competent and not appearing competent is not a bad thing. It is all part of the learning process. As a software craftsman, you need to know many different subjects and technologies. The pattern suggests that people who are uncomfortable with the learning process of appearing ignorant become experts instead. They seek out expertise in one particular field and never venture too far from it. Experts are important but the journey of a software craftsman is much longer and requires a broader scope of knowledge. You become an expert in one or several subjects along the way but that is not the ultimate goal. For a software craftsman, one of the most important skills is the ability to learn. To solve this problem the pattern suggests writing down a small list of thing you don’t really understand about your work and posting it in public view.

This pattern I find interesting. What I found most interesting was the distinction made between the software craftsman and the expert. The pattern admits that a software craftsman will likely become an expert in a few subjects but that is not the ultimate goal. The goal is not explained in the pattern (I’m sure it is explained at the beginning but I have forgotten it at time of writing) but the difference between the expert and the craftsman is that the expertise is not the goal. A craftsman goes further than becoming an expert and goes on to craft with the expertise of many under his belt where the expert gains expertise and then rests on his laurels. I do also appreciate the part where it states that by admitting ignorance it will increase your reputation greater than “fake it until you make it” will.

That’s it, for now, my fellow readers. Until next time!

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