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Roland Taylor
Roland Taylor

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Learning Gracefully

Salutations, humans!

There's so much to learn, and so many sources to learn from! At some point, it can seem a little overwhelming. If you're like me, it's quite likely that you'll periodically come across conflicting advice and information, and that can create a conflict within your mind as well. What information do you keep, and what information do you discard?

Further than that, you'll probably find yourself wanting to discard information and techniques just because you learned them a long time ago, or came to a conclusion on your own. I know I've done this on multiple occasions. In fact, this is what first happened to me when I was first truly learning CSS, a language which I've long since fallen in love with and use daily.

To illustrate my point, I'm going to focus on my journey with classes.

My Early Experience

When I first started to really dig into CSS, it was in the age where Bootstrap was really beginning to catch on. Finding Bootstrap at a time when I was now gaining a footing of my own was a key stepping stone in my journey. However, it also led to an interesting problem, at least in my mind at the time: everything used classes.

We'll touch on this in a bit, but let's try to understand why I thought this was a bad thing in the first place.

You see, having had limited experience with CSS before this, my confidence levels were pretty low. Being "self-taught" (or better stated, learning without an institution or instructor), I didn't have much direction. What I did learn, came through experimentation, reading, and a lot of copying and practice. Combined with the listening to multiple voices in this space before gaining a foothold for myself, this left me vulnerable to assuming the worst.

This is where our challenge often arises, we assume that anything we learned early on in our journey is probably wrong, and will later face correction.

BUT this often not the case.

'Early' Learning is useful too

You may have heard the saying "Don't throw out the baby with the bath water." or something to that effect, depending on your culture of origin, and this certainly applies to learning. When you first get started in a new field, or a new aspect of a field you're already familiar with, it's easy to get into the mindset that 75%+ of your learning will be corrected along the way.

Reality, however, is quite different. Looking back at my example, I'd developed the idea that "classes for everything" was bad. I mean bad bad. But is this true?

No. I know better now, and I no longer wrestle with this idea. Classes are now a mainstay of my web design and CSS framework development. Turns out that the thing I'd thought made me an amateur, actually put me in a good position all along. I just didn't know.

This applies to so many other things I thought I'd need to "unlearn" as well. Truth is, the process of learning is not only about failure, which is so often emphasized, but also about retention, and building upon what you already have.

Future learning needs a foundation

It's important to recognize and acknowledge that what you learn early in your journey, lays the foundation for you to expand and learn more later. Even if you have to adjust what you learn in time, don't let it make you feel "foolish" or "stupid". It's all a part of your progress toward perfection - and perfection, as my brother often says, is "being fit for purpose."

Happy Learning!

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