Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Just Start Playing with It

Daily video-blogger Ze Frank, in a not-so-recent post (warning: Ze is a little NSFW), hits the nail on the head with how to learn software and the limits of the traditional academic approach to learning, two things I try to be mindful of. He's got a pithy little discussion of how the best way to learn something (software, guitar) is to just start playing with it and cautions against the academic tendency to over-theorize. That we don't necessarily have to grok the thing-to-be-learned in its entirety before proceeding. Now, as a good little academic, I believe there's nothing so useful as a good theory. But, I do strive to balance theory and praxis in my classes. Ze's comments remind me of Johndan's anecdote of his daughter "learning" how to play a game. From Datacloud...
I watched as my daughter, Carolyn, then 7, played a computer game... The interface sported almost no explanatory text or conventionally meaningful icons; the brief instructions were written in German... She was not intimidated, confused, or annoyed; she seemed to consider the lack of instructions part of the game. She merely started the game and began clicking on objects...
He includes a snippet of their conversation about the game:
J: How do you know which blocks to hit?
C: I just... hit them.
J: So how do you figure out what the rules are?
C: Just play.
J: Just play? And then what happens?
C: You just... play.
(p. 3)
Ze Frank is one of my favorite Internet Personalities. He's funny, very clever/innovative, and often provides something interesting to consider -- thinking so I don't have to.

No comments: