Learning Sans School

Teaching yourself new things is hard. I mean, concentrated, intentional learning. Not picking up bits and pieces over the course of days and weeks during everyday interaction.

Right now, I’m learning Python, and about TCP/IP, and German.

Things I’ve learned about learning:

  • <3 to 3 and C for essplaining

    Bite sized chunks. My brain can handle about 30 minutes at a time, then I have to go do something else. So, Pimsler is in 30-minute chunks, youtube videos, and the like. I can get through a Python Lesson or two in that time slot, too.

  • Express what you’re learning in the best way to you. For me, it’s drawing through networks, doing flow charts of Python, and muttering to myself in German about what time you’re going to eat.
  • Check in with someone (hi, Kaleen!). We are professional slackers, and having someone else that you have agreed to explain things to keeps you honest. You also get them to filter out the best parts of their own studies for you.
  • Track it. It’s easy to lie to yourself about how much you’ve been doing (either way more or way less). I use a simple thing called JoesGoals. I can see when the last thing I did something was, if I’m spending too much time on any one thing, or not enough on others.
  • Care. I care about TCP/IP because I think what networks people chose to put in place will be indicitive of how they view the world. I care about Python because I’m tired of asking other people to write things for me without understanding it myself. And I care about German because I want to not be a hick American that can’t speak the language of a country I aim to spend a lot of time in. Also, slight crush.

Some fantastic friends have taken time to explain through some things with me, send me puzzles and questions. Everyone has been incredibly supportive.

The hardest thing for me has been making the time. Given my schedule, and all the pressing things at hand, it’s hard to take time for myself. So I’m trying to go easy on myself – know that I’m not going to stick to this every day, but I can most days. And that taking time to improve my brain is worth it.

Some resources for everyone:
CRE : Tech and politics : German podcast
Die Seite mit der Maus : Kid’s program about science
HR : another German podcast. Still don’t know quite what it’s about, but it’s good to hear structures.
Sesamstraße on YouTube
Thanks, Fabienne for the fantastic recommendations

Learn Python the Hard Way
Khan Academy : their CompSci lessons use Python

Wireshark : lets you capture packets easily and analyze them. Also has a nice wiki to start learning things.