The Learning Lifestyle


I just read Eric Sink’s ‘Career Calculus’ post that is making rounds
on the blogs I frequent.  I’ll admit that when I first read it, I felt
quite smug.  I thought to myself, “I’m always learning new stuff,
always curious.  I read about interesting new research going on, I follow the
actions in my industry, and I follow a variety of programming resources religiously.”

Further reflection, though, led my thoughts to a more complicated, and perhaps less
complimentary, picture.  You see, much of the things I read, don’t directly
support my career – I’m just interested in them.  I rarely find an
article in Scientific American that seems directly relevant to software testing –
but I find them fascinating none the less.  I read a lot of science fiction;
a technical text, or even a biography, would likely be more immediately useful in
the cause of improving my salable skills.  Having been hooked as a child, though,
I doubt I could give up my scifi if I tried.

So there are all different kinds of things to learn, and ways of learning them. 
Eric’s article refers to ‘learning’ as a singly-dimensioned variable,
but it seems much more complex.  One could perhaps make the case that Eric is
specifically referring to learning that directly supports career skills.  Maybe
that is what he meant.  I know, however, that I would be a terribly unhappy tester
if I tried to limit my curiousity and my learning to only those spheres of information
that directly touch on the skills and art of software testing.


Comments (3)

  1. rick says:

    I had a very similar series of reactions to Mr. Sink’s article. The final outcome as far as I can imagine is that all learning is good for one’s overall "Cluefulness". And when considering that the more perspectives and approaches to resolving a challenge one is "clued" into it seems to follow that one would be more likely to be successful in any field.

  2. He is not saying that you cannot be a rounded person and do anything you do just for enjoyment. All he is pointing out is that you cannot get ina rut in this industry. Your quality output can stay the same for 20 years at a factory without learning a thing and you are an outstanding employee. With computers though you have to be continuously improoving. Everything else is getting exponentially more complex so you have to also. Keep reading your SciFi, you don’t have to study all day.

  3. Bruce says:

    Thanks for the comments! I don’t think I could stop learning even if I tried – its probably the mindset that got me into computers in the first place – it is what I’m suited for.

    This thought process has been useful for me – it reminds me that the ‘ad-hoc’ learning that comes naturally to me, is only one approach, or facet. There are other avenues to learn; and it can be useful to pursue directed learning as well.

    I think I could do better in that area; a few less scifi books and a few more about web services would make me better at my job.

    I do believe, in the old dictum that "all work and no play makes Bruce a dull boy" – and it sounds like we all agree. All types of learning can be useful and fulfilling. Furthermore, as Rick points out, doing anything that raises your overall level of ‘C’ can have useful repercussions in all aspects of your life, including job performance.