Need to know

One thing I have really enjoyed learning after finishing school is that I get to choose what I want to learn.  Or sometimes it’s just following up with what I need to know.  I have learned that the internet and the kids’ section in the library are great places to start if all I want is a quick cursory look at a particular subject.

Also, in school there was a sense that you need to go through a whole class and be thoroughly familiar with a subject before you feel up to tackling any problems within the subject area.  However, I’ve learned that sometimes just a little knowledge (yes, it does make you dangerous) sometimes is sufficient for the need at hand and no further time is necessary to continue in a subject area if that’s all you need.

I guess it’s also what I’ve learned in computer science with programming.  Sometimes the brute force method is the fastest way to accomplish a task if you are just going to use it once or twice.  There’s no need to go to a more elegant approach to the problem.

Recently, I wanted to learn how to create a dxf file to do some of the cutting on my Silhouette Portrait (digital cutting machine).  From school training, I downloaded the complete specification manual and started pouring through it.  Then it dawned on me that perhaps I really don’t need to pour through a 270+ page file and all I needed was a few simple examples.  Couple of hours later, I got what I needed.  It may not be the most elegant or the most efficient solution but it is sufficient for my needs.

So I’m slowly trying to teach my kids that if they need some information or learn some skills, they don’t necessary need a whole class or whole book on the subject.  First get a general idea of the subject area that they want to find the information, then identify what niche their interest falls in, and learn to search for the particular information that they need.  Unless they are really interested in digging deeper, once they find the solution, they will be free to move on.  Wish that was a skill that I had learned in school.

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