You will often hear me lament the fact that many lessons I learned as a child were “right” and well-meaning, but they were incomplete. As a child, I learned not to cheat. Growing up, this meant keeping your eyes on your paper. As an adult, this meant focusing on your original and unique work. This is an immature understanding of the lesson.
What was meant in prohibition of cheating is to give proper credit, to partner wisely, and to build with integrity. Rather than keeping your eyes on your paper, mature understanding means that you learn to leverage the language in your professional field. Read what others have written, and find the brilliance, patterns, and opportunities within.
In my programming practice, I used to waste a lot of time trying to figure out how to code a task myself. This left me significantly behind with a steep learning curve. But, it came from a place of integrity and self-reliance. I have graduated not only to understand that “code sourcing” is an important activity, but that the field of coding supports partnerships and communities around the practice of code sharing. Including the open source movement, many programmers are the sharing type. Just ask.
Creating Something Different
A mature understanding of supports your creativity. Consider the value of searching out the successes and failures of others. Not the simple and swiss-cheese prone question and answer, but the actual behind-the-scenes of how it was done. It’s my niche in education. I present more than just the surface content and undergirding theory. I present the cultural context, the cognitive constructs, and the social implications. It’s like the code to life.
What it Means for You
They say Read, Watch, and Volunteer. But, you must also compare, contrast, push the envelope, and build upon prior work. Learn to continue in constant search of what you want to create. Only after an exhaustive search should you commit to a development plan. Once that initial prototype has been created, continue to look for an advance beyond your implementation. This approach will save you from recreating wheels that you could have repurposed or purchased.