Originally published on Medium
I don’t know you, but in my case, I have been actively looking for ways of how to become a strong developer — a better developer. Over the years, I have been trying to improve my programming skills trying and testing different techniques and approaches.
In that discovery process, I’ve realized that it is not only about how we consume information, but it is also about how we process, use, and retain it in our long-term memory.
It’s all about what techniques we use to speed the process up and become an effective and efficient learner. Our first, second, three, and the nth-goal is to figure out a way that allows us to become better, better, and better.
I also know that everyone learns in different ways. However, throughout this post, we will discuss a few things farmers use to master their craft and face hard tasks. The most important one is the Curved Machete technique.
The most exciting part of this is how we can use that technique to become a stronger and better developer.
While I was pruning the trees and cleaning the weed
Due to the pandemic, I am not living in the city. I moved to the countryside — the place where I was born and grew up.
At the end of April and the whole of May is the right moment in my country to seed corn since it is when the winter starts. I learned that from my dad when I was a child — teenager.
Based on that and since I was living in my childhood place I had decided to seed corn and get out my fingers from the keyboard for a while. A weekend I decided to prune the trees and clean the weed. This is a must if we want to seed any seed. I don’t know if you know it, anyway.
That being said, and since we have now a little more context it is time to talk about the problem and the solution.
The problem — Consuming and Learning without Retention
Every single day we are consuming new pieces of information and we are trying to process and retain it without any luck. The information out there is so huge that sometimes we feel overwhelmed.
In this sense, you probably have already faced that frustrating moment when you realize that you took a course a few months ago, watched an amazing and helpful video, read a great post but a few days or weeks later you only remember at most the headline or you only remember part of the main idea. What happened there?
What’s going on here is that we are learning without a strategy or an effective technique. We are becoming consumers instead of creators. Either way, we are trapped by the trends and our learning process is inefficient and ineffective. Then we got frustrated!
The Solution — The Curved machete technique
Farmers use different techniques to face hard tasks in order to get them done. The Curved Machete technique is just a name I am using to match up the most important techniques that farmers use on their daily basis. So let’s dig into them just right now.
Sharpening the Curved machete often
It turns out that while a farmer is pruning or cleaning the weed he doesn’t wait until his curved machete is a blunt knife, instead, he is sharpening it often. A farmer knows very well that by doing it he is ensuring to move forward as much as he can with the same speed and effort.
As developers, we are also looking for the same aim. We are trying to move forward as much as we can trying to grasp and process all information. The final goal is doing it with the same or even better speed and effort. isn’t it?
However, we are not able to accomplish that goal, either our technique is ineffective or in the worse case, we don’t use any strategy or technique. In order to achieve that, we need to embody the Curved machete sharpening cycle. I would describe it as a continuous and repeated process to improve problem-solving, resolution process, technical communication, and programming fundamentals skills.
Therefore, we don’t need to wait until our muscle we have developed goes away. We have to come back to the same information we learned yesterday, two days, or even three days ago to create the necessary connections our brain needs to give priority to those pieces of knowledge.
The idea is not to memorize it but develop understanding and create the number of needed neuron connections our brain needs. This is possible by trying to explain to yourself the information you learned a few days back is one of the most effective ways to create those connections.
If we now make comparisons with the Curved machete technique basically we are sharping our machete (programming, problem-solving skills) often avoiding it turns into a blunt knife.
The Process of separating the wheat from the chaff
In the farming field, another interesting thing is the process of separating the wheat from the chaff. This reminds us of the importance of sorting the valuable from the worthless.
In that regard, as developers, we need to do the same. We should be able to avoid any worthless things for the sake of our learning process. I would say, avoid learning stacks and trending topics while you are learning. You are easily distracted so try to give real and the highest priority to your tasks what you are learning, instead.
As long as we stay focused on what really matters our harvest will be better. For the sake of the learning process by doing this the result will be much better in the end.
Resist the hardness of sun
Farmers work under the sun so this is really hard. So their task requires physical and in a certain way physiological strengths.
They usually take small breaks to breathe, drink water in order to re-energize themselves. We should do the same while we are learning or trying to master our craft. The bunch of information we need to grasp is overwhelming. Avoid at all to fall into the burnout.
In the software development field, we need to get into a continuous, sustainable, and repeated process if we want to become a better — strong developer.
The Curved machete technique reminds us of the importance of going back to the same information we learned a few days back or even older learned-knowledge, in order to create the necessary neuron connections our brain needs to retain it automatically.
Feel free to add yours in the comment section.
Thanks for reading! I really appreciate it.
Top comments (6)
It looks like space repetition memorization technique. Of course it is not applied literally but the core components are there. As i am continuing to build my foundation in software engineering. I must admit that i feel overwhelm. Too much to learn at once. i would say no matter what just stick to one thing at the time. Build your foundation solid. Build modern software with it. Improvement will come over time not over nights.
Thanks for reading. Yes under the hood it shares the same principles, certainly
Wow great technique, thanks for sharing!
Nice! thanks for reading.
Hey! Interesting post. I have been focus on this nowadays, and during the process, this post remind me one important quote that could be useful:
"When you learn something, you have the 90% of forget it.
If you repeat it or try to remember the next day you have the 70% of forget it.
If you repeat it or try to remember the next week you have the 50% of forget it.
And, if you repeat it or try to remember the next month you have the 10% to forget it."
According to this, repeat and reinforce always is going to be a good technique, and that is not something new, however needs to be permanent in our life.