11 January 2012


School is a job, they say. You should give it your full attention. But what I've found is that if you just do what they tell you to do, you won't do very well.

There are plenty of people in my course who tried hard and studied last semester, and squeaked through the assignments and passed the tests, but they didn't like it. They felt overwhelmed and realized, correctly, that they weren't learning very much. Some of them dropped out.

I find that a better approach is to start with the stuff they teach you, then go off and start your own projects with that knowledge. Which doubles your course load, of course, so it's best not to bother unless you're really, really serious about this line of work.

By the way, what am I talking about?

I just spent the last 2 years working in the car wash at a Mercedes dealership. I learned a lot. Things like:
You're not that clever,
You have no idea what hard work means,
And quit being such an arrogant prick.

Having learned these things, I feel that I've gotten as much mileage out of washing cars as I'm ever going to. So I went back to school last September, studying Computer Systems Technology at Camosun College.

The program turns out to be exactly what I've been looking for all of my life, and I've just gotten to the point where I'm mature enough to not make an absolute hash of it.

All the courses are intensely interesting, even if some of the teachers are pretty deadly. And this is where my earlier statement comes in - there's no way to learn from a lecture if you fall asleep in the middle of it. So if the class is that bad, I start working on assignments on my laptop, and by the time we get to the lab I'm already halfway done and have a series of good questions for the teacher. I'm pretty happy with my strategy so far.

Last semester I had a tough time with the web design course, and felt like I hadn't learned enough. So I built two websites over Christmas break. Now I think I'm up to the level I should have been at the end of the course, but I still have a ton to learn. At least I have a starting point - the rest is a matter of hard work and lots of it.

Unfortunately, the same situation is starting with the Database Concepts course - and no one wants to spend their spring break reading about databases. It is literally the most boring subject ever. In this case, paying attention and taking notes seems to be the way to go. Here's me, old enough to employ obvious strategies for success, and not make an absolute hash of it. Will it work?

Well, yeah. Obviously. But I'll have to check in later and see just how well it went.

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