Learning vs. doing: implicit learning and reflection
Do Yourself a Favor and Stop Learning made a few circles in my news aggregator before I found time to write. In this post Deane writes about drive to learn new technologies:
It's true — we learn far more than we are ever able to use. We learn just for the sake of learning. [...]
This may seem harmless, but does it, in fact, hinder our ability to produce? Does all this learning and all the attention span we spend on new technologies detract from what we should be doing in the here and now?[...]
Is learning a defense mechanism? Do we keep learning so we don't have to write code? Is learning just an easy way to avoid having to actually put ideas into practice? Is this a case of, "Those who can, do. Those who can't just read a few more blogs and test new theories."?
I agree with the main idea of "application-oriented learning" instead of "learning for the sake of learning", but this leads me thinking about something else: learning vs. doing dilemma.
I wrote a bit about it earlier, referring to the time to learn vs. time to do things discussion at I-KNOW 03 conference. Now I have better explanations.
I'm reading papers on implicit learning (drafted notes). Implicit learning could be defined as
the process through which we become sensitive to certain regularities in the environment (1) in the absence of intention to learn about those regularities (2) in the absence of awareness that one is learning, and (3) in such a way that the resulting knowledge is difficult to express (Cleermans, in press)
In other words, implicit learning is the one that happen while doing (so there is no learning vs. doing dilemma here :). The funny thing is that most people are not aware of it or don't consider it to be "learning".
But there is something that takes time from doing - it's reflection we use to articulate what was learnt implicitly (see reporting vs. reflecting in conference blogging for an example and notes on informal learning for articulation techniques). Note, that explicit (e.g. self-directed or other-directed learning) is likely to take time from doing too.
So how do we find a good doing-learning balance? I don't know yet, but I'm going to do some doing on Saturday afternoon instead of reflecting :)