Learning with Velocity18 Mar 2021
I’m two weeks into full-time coding bootcamp, and it is awesome. For those unfamiliar, I’m learning to build fully functioning web applications from the ground up. That’s just a fancy way of saying: “there’s a lot of coding.”
I was very skeptical of the bootcamp format before I decided to try it out, mostly because I’d heard that bootcamps only scratch the surface of web development, given the short time frame that they teach students. This is true, because it’s impossible to teach someone everything about computer science in mere weeks.
However, for someone like me who’s looking to understand concepts and get to building as quickly as possible, bootcamp is perfect. It is the epitome of learning with velocity.
Remember high school physics? Velocity is different from mere speed. It’s speed in a given direction. It’s fast and focused. Getting things done fast is great, but if those things are moving the needle in several different directions, then there’s little net movement towards achieving a goal.
In this case, with learning, velocity provides direction and speed to acquiring knowledge. There’s inherent momentum that comes with velocity. When we learn something challenging, complex, or technical, momentum dies easily. But with a quick pace (whether that’s enforced by oneself or something externally), and a with an unrelenting focus on the knowledge to be gained, that momentum carries, whether we like it or not.
As I’ve grown, I’ve realized that learning is less about knowing facts, and more about understanding concepts. In the age we live in, knowledge and simple facts are at our fingertips. Heck, our phones can even translate languages for us!
Understanding concepts is a more elusive prize. Concepts are something that we must wire into our brains ourselves. It takes approaching problems with a certain strategy over and over again, until it clicks and we have that “AHA!” moment. Understanding is what pays the big bucks. That’s what our knowledge economy runs on.
Learning + Velocity
Pick a concept and add velocity to learning it, and there’s something magical that happens. It’s a fast, focused, intense, but hopefully inspirational journey to understanding something that could be brand new.
That doesn’t mean that learning with velocity is easy, or particularly obvious at first. Knowing what to learn, and when to add velocity is another expedition entirely, however. It took me a while to understand that a coding bootcamp would be right for me. I realized that it was good for me because I didn’t walk into it as a total beginner. I have done a deal of self-learning, and have taken classes in computer info systems in college, which helped make this decision. My previous experience showed me that I was interested in this topic and that I was looking to find mastery in my conceptual understanding.
Now that I’ve experienced the power of learning with velocity, I would do it again for other skills I want to acquire. I could see myself applying velocity to learning Chinese, playing guitar, improving my writing, and sharpening my business skills. I’m excited to explore the sea of high quality online (and offline) courses, books, and more. Taking the time, energy, and space to add velocity to the learning makes all the difference.
And bootcamp? As I learn with velocity over the course of these weeks, it feels as though the puzzle is coming together, pieces I’ve been missing in my knowledge are getting filled, and I’m having an amazing time focused on nothing but my learning.
Now, I’m stoked to apply what I’m learning here in the next chapter.