Back to School

August 25, 2021

Bradfield

I’ve enrolled in a year-long program at Bradfield, called CSI. CSI stands for Crime Scene Investigation, Computer Science Intensive, and is a year-long journey into advanced topics of computer science, with a focus on crucial, industry-applicable topics. I’m over the moon about starting. In recent days, I’ve been working on the prep that encompasses a selection of topics from C, Go, Unix Shell, Data Structures & Algorithms, and Math.

The most interesting thing happened as I dove into work on that, and it’s mostly centered around my motivation for doing actual hard work. Before having a group of people sharing the journey with me it was way harder to get motivated and effective in completing tasks that I’ve outlined for myself. I have a strong internal motivation (after all, I am self-taught), but the additional accountability is a great boost.

Sailing

As I’m going through heaps of the prep material, in preparation for the actual heaps of work that the course is going to come with, I realise a lot about how most to learn effectively. I’ve been taking notes on how I feel about studying. Here’s what I found about myself:

I get very excited initially about books and courses, I complete the first 2-3 chapters, all exercises, etc. but as soon as they get more challenging I realise how many hours (dozens, for some books, hundreds) would it take to keep up that level of work. That puts me in a tailspin and motivation tanks. The way I deal with it is as follows: I start with skimming the whole book, read chapter intros and endings, then dive into the most interesting parts, then I find a problem to solve ( building things is always super motivating for me ), and only then I pursue exercises as necessary. It’s a little obvious when I read it now, but it took me a while to actually build up to this level of self-awareness.

Motivation to know is a big driver, but isn’t enough. What actually helps me finish things is accountability, feedback, sharing, and ability to talk about the projects I’m working on. Being able to do things I haven’t been able before, albeit a very vague and kinda mal-specified thought brings me to a very important (even if overused) quote:

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”

― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

After all, what brings me the most joy is that feeling of interconnectivity of the world, experiencing the internet in a way that makes it much like a neural network of the planet, of our species, is what makes it so damn intriguing. And that’s the feeling that I’m chasing, and the ship I’m sailing.

That’s all

For now. I’m going back to my work on mastering my craft. It’s an incredibly exciting time. Some updates on this progress and interactions with people who are on a similar path can be found on my gh repo where I document various code experiments. If you’re pursuing CS education like me, please reach out - I’ve had a few people do that since I have started last year and it’s great to have a support network. If you are doing something similar to me, you can always email me at daniel.kaczmarczyk@hey.com - I love to hear from people!


Written by Daniel Kaczmarczyk, a software engineer and educator. you can find me on twitter or email me at daniel.kaczmarczyk@hey.com

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