Sunday, July 11, 2010

Learning a new language

I haven't been able to post much lately because I've been totally immersed in learning a new language for querying multi-demensional (OLAP) databases. It isn't as difficult as it sounds. It involves understanding the structure of the database and understanding the underlying syntax, which is much simpler than learning a foreign language.

Right now my learning is self-directed. If I need to take a course or buy a book my company will support that. But I have been thinking a little bit about how I learn something new.

Years ago as a student I was living in a house with a piano and I wanted to learn how to knock out a few notes. A friend decided to take my education in hand and set out to teach me. What he did was teach me a few basic building blocks and then gave me something really hard. His premise was that if you learn a hard piece, going back and figuring out the rest of the building blocks will be easy. And he was right.

To this day, I do employ his strategy when I need to learn something new. So with this new language I learnt the basic syntax and commands and then tried to deconstruct a very complex query and keep going back and forth.

I'm not sure what the point of this post is except that I think educators need to challenge students at an early age. Looking back - the teachers I gained the most from were those that expected the most.

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