[OT] Education Theory (was Re: Database Design Theory?)

Ross Werner ross at agilestudios.com
Wed Nov 9 14:52:43 MST 2005

On Wed, 9 Nov 2005, Shane Hathaway wrote:
> I've always wondered if I'm odd in the way I learn things, but I've always 
> had far more success if I start with practical applications before moving 
> into theory.

For me it depends. Some things I (for whatever reason) get really 
interested in theory for the sake of theory. For example, CS 252 was 
really easy for me because (a) I had just finished reading Godel, Escher, 
Bach, (b) I already knew things like regular expressions from my Unix 
experience, and (c) I simply loved things like grammars, finite state 
automata, turing machines, and so forth--for no reason at all, just 
because they fascinate me.

But in other things, I totally agree with you--when I start with the 
applications, the theory side of it just seems to fall into place much 
more easily.

> Nearly every time I've taken a theory-heavy class in something I haven't 
> learned on my own, I struggled a lot.

Same here. But I don't think it's necessarily (either in my case or in 
your case) simply because I tried applying stuff first--I think it was 
more because (a) I was already familiar with some of the basic ideas in 
the material, and (b) it was something I was already at least somewhat 
interested in (as evidenced by the fact that I had already learned 
something on my own).

 	~ Ross

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