Questions and Learning

Its normal to realize you know less as you learn more

Thu Nov 03

Written by: Chris Pohlman

Pick of the week image:

logo for a newsletter called morning brew




The more you learn the more you realize you don’t know

Or to put it another way your number of questions you might have about a given subject will begin to expand as they become more specific. For example lets say I know basically nothing about tennis. If I wanted to find out more I’d likely start by asking a very broad question like what is tennis? Then from there I might find out it’s a sport and can ask more questions like how is it played? This might quickly explode into more and more specific questions regarding rules and how they interact with each other, who makes the best rackets or tennis balls?, etc. Pretty obvious but recognizing what phase in the question asking spectrum you are at for a given subject might give you a better idea of how much you actually know on a subject already. If you feel like you have a ton of very specific questions you might already be further in your journey of learning about that subject than you thought.

This does bring up another issue however, especially when it comes to fields like computer programming which require a lot of knowledge and a lot of practice to master. How do you keep from getting stuck in mode or the other? After all without asking new questions you likely won’t make progress and without practicing implementing the things you learn from those questions you likely won’t get much value out of asking them. My suggestion is to focus mainly on practice whenever you can, but to also keep a log of any questions you run into while you are coding, or reading documentation, or any other time they might pop into your head. This way you won’t need to worry about any pesky infinite loops in your learning process.

Thanks for reading Christopher’s Newsletter! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.

Whenever you come across something you aren’t quite sure that you understand, write it down, make it detailed or broad, feel free to include context or not, whatever will make it easier to research answers later. Then next time you have extra time but can’t actually practice coding pull up your question list and pick one to research, or if you come across an answer naturally go back and put the answer in your log. Over time you will end up with a wonderful custom wiki that will show off just how much you’ve learned. This practice works great for any subject matter too, not just for coding!

What I’m coding this Week

This week I added to my roll for sandwich website and gave it a new feature of accepting custom lists of ingredients from users, so you can always roll a sandwich that you have the ingredients at home for. This is accomplished using a form and saving the entered data to local storage in the browser. The function that makes it work is pretty simple but it of course took a few iterations of bug fixing to get it working the way I intended.

function getUserFoods() {
    const breadsTextArea = document.querySelector("#breads");
    const meatsTextArea = document.querySelector("#meats");
    const cheesesTextArea = document.querySelector("#cheeses");
    const veggiesTextArea = document.querySelector("#veggies");
    const condimentsTextArea = document.querySelector("#condiments");

    const breadsList = breadsTextArea.value.split(",");
    const meatsList = meatsTextArea.value.split(",");
    const cheesesList = cheesesTextArea.value.split(",");
    const veggiesList = veggiesTextArea.value.split(",");
    const condimentsList = condimentsTextArea.value.split(",");

    localStorage.setItem("breads", breadsList);
    localStorage.setItem("meats", meatsList);
    localStorage.setItem("cheeses", cheesesList);
    localStorage.setItem("veggies", veggiesList);
    localStorage.setItem("condiments", condimentsList);
    localStorage.setItem("useUserFoods", "true");


Pick of the Week - Morning Brew

Morning Brew is another newsletter focused on bringing you a concise collection of news stories that are primarily relevant to the world of business in the most general sense. You also get a quick snapshot of the current state of the stock market and the writing tends to be pretty fun. The company behind Morning Brew also puts out a few other newsletters focused on more specific things such as emerging tech!