dankim.org

How People Learn

29 Mar 2013

The Spring 2013 quarter at The Starter League has begun, and we're excited to get started!

Part of that excitement is the chance to make every quarter successively better. Everyone on The Starter League team takes teaching and learning seriously. We're always looking to improve so that we can build the best learning experience for our students.

Recently I ran across a fascinating article about how people learn. It's worth reading in full, but there were a few key insights that really stood out.

Teach less.

Your capacity to learn in a given session is limited to just a few ideas. When more is covered, less is retained.

We think about this a lot. We have eleven weeks to build your core skills, get you coding, and sustain your confidence. We focus on teaching within your capacity so you can retain what's important.

We know we can't cover everything in eleven weeks. Our goal is to give you the practical skills to code confidently, build, ship, and continue your journey.

It's not about facts. It's about applying knowledge.

Memorizing facts and techniques is necessary, but applying that knowledge to a real problem is crucial to learning and retention.

This is why we believe so much in Starter Night. It's a chance to take what you've learned and build an app to solve a problem you care about. It's the culmination of many weeks of hard work, and it's an experience that will help you learn more deeply.

Having been a student last quarter, I can attest to the value of building something real. Our team was frustrated with friends who forgot to return our stuff. In four weeks we built an app from the ground up and shipped it. It was a proud moment, and one that I can't wait for each of you to experience.

Connect and be present.

Everyone has different backgrounds, so it's important that we make a connection with you.

When we understand where you're coming from, we can help answer the questions that will help you learn -- why is this worth learning, and how is it applicable in the real world?

The best thing you can do is be present.

This doesn't mean you need to be the loudest voice in the room. Find what works for you. Pair up during class. Ask questions to your classmates or instructors. Participate during in-class exercises. Grab a beer and talk code. Come to office hours for one on one help. Do your homework. Code alone. Code often. Read ahead. Write about your experiences.

We're students too. We want to keep learning and getting better at what we do. And we can't wait to start learning with you.