Sunday, June 19, 2005

Sunday June 19, 2005 Two thoughts

I've had my own computer(s) for over 20 years now. I've been involved in writing programs and using many programs already written. I've been a cad/cam operator and helped instruct many people in how to use various programs. The main thing I have learned by helping other people is to show them WHAT you can do with the program and then HOW to do it. Too often, people say “which button did you push and why did you push it?” They get too wrapped up in the details of HOW before they know WHAT they are doing. I tell them not to watch my hands but to watch the screen and see what the program does. After they see what can be done, then they can spend the time to learn all the details of how to do it. It is much like teaching a youngster how to drive – there are so many details to pick up on that sometimes their attention is diverted from the main purpose of being aware of where they are going.

When I am first introduced to a new program, I want to know what I can expect this program to do before I devote the time to learning how to do it. If the program doesn't accomplish what I want it to do, then there is no point in proceeding further. This approach works well for the student as well as the instructor. For a really involved program, I prefer to become adept at the basic operation before delving deeper into the other bells and whistles available. If the basic operation isn't friendly or doesn't produce what I am looking for, then there is no use in trying any further tricks to dress it up.

When I was in grade school, we had a principal who had the whole school learn problem solving by writing out the problem, writing down “to find:” then listing what answer we were searching for and then writing down “to solve:” then performing the operation of solving the problem. It was tedious at times, but it lingered with me the rest of my life. Before jumping in to solve a problem, make sure just what you are looking for and then find the best way to get that answer. In this manner you won't get lost along the way to finding the solution to your problem. Actually, it makes a lot of sense to apply this to your whole life – if you don't know what you are looking for, you'll never know how to find it.

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