Apprenticeship Pattern – Retreat into Competence

This pattern is all about taking a step back, a deep breath, and fighting through the struggles you might be having. The authors talk about the roller coaster ride that an apprenticeship can become. They include advice about what to do when you feel like you aren’t making any progress and how to fix the situation. Essentially, I think the authors wrote this pattern for people struggling to learn new technologies. It can be scary to jump into a project that you had never been familiar with before and  the authors provide a confidence booster to help you bounceback. The authors say to set a time limit for yourself to go back and practice the things you already know and are comfortable with, once that time limit is up, go back and try to work through the new problems you might be having. Build up your confidence and keep the forward momentum going.

I didn’t find this pattern to be as immediately useful as some of the other patterns, however I chose this pattern because this situation can happen to anyone. I am sure that it can be very easy to become overwhelmed with a project that you are not entirely comfortable with. However, I don’t necessarily agree with retreating, even if it is only for a short time. I find that being resilient and stubborn can help you fight through your issues, spending consecutive time working on something can help you break through the obstacles that you didn’t think you could. I don’t really understand the actions the authors say to take:

“Pick something self-contained that you know really well and reimplement it. For instance, Ade likes to implement caching algorithms because they can range from the trivial to the highly complex. They also allow opportunities to reinforce his intuition about design and algorithmic complexity.”

For example, it is great that he likes to implement caching algorithms but what does that have to do with the project he is working on, assuming that it has nothing to do with caching? Going back and doing something you’ve done many times can certainly help build confidence but I also think it might be too much of a distraction to try and be productive. Overall, I think not giving up is the most important part of succeeding. If you need a break you could ask someone (like a mentor) to help you learn the process.


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