Confronting Your Ignorance

This apprenticeship pattern is the flip side of last weeks pattern, expose your ignorance. Now you have to confront the ignorance that you exposed to your team mates and coworkers . You start simply by choosing one thing you do not understand fully, and then researching and working on it until you fill in the gaps in your knowledge about that tool or framework or some such. You work on fixing your ignorance on your own time, until a point where you decide to continue working on it or move to something else you are ignorant in.

This is a very necessary pattern for an apprentice, especially paired with the previous pattern of exposing your ignorance. They both need to go hand in hand for an apprentice to advance themselves as a craftsman. What happens if one uses one pattern but not the other?

If someone uses the expose your ignorance pattern without confronting their ignorance, then they do nothing but stay ignorant. Whenever you are tasked with doing something you are ignorant of, you simply state your ignorance and then… that is it. You just shrug and say that you ca not do it. Without ever learning about things you do not know, you can never advance as a craftsman.

However, while confronting your ignorance does lead to learning and advance in oneself as a craftsman, doing only that without exposing the ignorance in the first place can be problematic. If apprentices only ever learn in their own time without letting anyone know that they were ignorant in the first place, everyone would silently work on their own problems without ever asking for help. There would be no discussion of issues, or allowing others to help you get through something you are having a large amount of trouble with. The reason one exposes their ignorance is to gain help from those on the team more experienced than them.

This pattern made a lot of sense to me. The part of the pattern section that discussed what confronting your ignorance without exposing it is was like was familiar to me. In the past I had moments where I would try to work on a project on my own for a long period of time, and bash my head against a wall until I figured it out. Then realizing I could have just asked someone else for help and reduce my frustrations by an enormous amount. Nowadays I was always strive to get past my pride and ask for help, to avoid a lot of headache and to help myself learn more effectively.

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