The ‘confront your ignorance’ apprenticeship pattern talks about what to do when you have discovered a gap in your skillset that you need to fill for your daily work. Though you have identified this shortcoming, you aren’t sure how to begin overcoming it. Hoover and Oshineye recommend selecting a single skill, tool, or technique and working actively on your understanding of it. This can be done in any number of ways, such as by reading introductory articles or constructing breakable toys. You should choose a learning method that works for you. Once you are satisfied that your knowledge has been sufficiently filled in, you can decide to either continue pursuing this topic or move on to another gap in your knowledge. This pattern should be used in tandem with the ‘expose your ignorance’ apprenticeship pattern. Confronting your ignorance in public as well as private encourages an environment that is more tolerant of failure. Focusing too much on developing your skills in private may pull you away from your actual work, and it may become an issue for your team. On the other hand, focusing too much on the ‘expose your ignorance’ apprenticeship pattern may become obnoxious to your team members and prevent you from doing anything meaningful about your lack of knowledge. At the risk of coming off as either arrogant and unwilling to work or passive and unwilling to learn, you must strike a balance between these two patterns.
I think this apprenticeship pattern is really interesting. I have always found it useful to study topics that I feel I am weak in private; it’s nice to be able to focus on learning in a space I don’t need to worry about how that lack of knowledge makes me look. Learning in private can only get you so far, however. It is important to also communicate with people with more experience and who can help you better understand the topic you are pursuing. I think as Hoover and Oshineye suggest, this pattern would be especially useful when employed alongside the ‘expose your ignorance’ apprenticeship pattern. I do agree that these should be used within a reasonable amount. There is no point in expanding upon a skill if it is going to ruin your daily work.
From the blog CS@Worcester – Ciampa's Computer Science Blog by robiciampa and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.