Ashley (allsorts46) wrote,

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I've been reflecting lately on how much I hate not being perfect at everything. Actually, not so much my current ability at anything, but the limits on my ability to learn and improve.

Whether I was bound to be this way since birth, or whether it's a result choices I have made in my life, I have an affinity for a certain kind of thinking. By no coincidence, I'm sure, my work (and play) in software is very well suited to the way my mind works, and learning 'new' concepts and ideas in that area usually comes very easily to me. I can see similarities in how I approach everything, from programming to life in general; rationally, as a problem to be analysed and solved, finding the necessary interactions between objects to produce the desired changes in state. Almost everything I've ever had any interest in learning has been either logical by nature, or able to be forced into some kind of algorithm anyway. Almost everything, but not everything.

It's those exceptions that annoy me. When I come across something that doesn't come naturally to me, that doesn't fit my usual approach, I need to try a different way. The problem is that I don't have a different way. I've become specialised in a particular kind of thought, it seems, at the expense of any other. By why should they be exclusive? I should be able to learn new ways of thinking. Maybe I can, I don't know any reason why not, but I don't know how to learn things.

When I'm reading or writing code, I know the rules of the language it's written in. If something doesn't work the way it should, or even if the same thing can be done in a better or more efficient way, I can change it. With learning, I don't know the rules.

Also, it seems to me that beyond a certain skill level in anything, it is impossible or at least impractical for us to do consciously. When we start out with something, we usually put a lot of conscious thought into doing it, but we usually suck. When we get better is when we start to find that we don't really need to think about it any more. Our brain has developed some method of doing whatever it is, and that can now be applied without 'trying'. From my point of view, I'd say it'd come up with some algorithm and written some code, but unfortunately I can't see what it wrote, don't know how it works, and can't do anything about it. It's completely out of my control.

It's great that we can do this, and I'm sure necessary for us to even survive at all, but when it goes 'wrong', what can you do? I often make a mistake with something that I'd done subconsciously, then immediately consciously think about the error and produce a solution, only to discard it and proceed to make the same mistake again. Knowing what the mistake was or even what should be done to correct it is completely useless, because there's no way to directly alter the 'code' the brain has written. Certainly it adapts by itself, reinforcing some aspects and weakening others, but the method by which it does this is also a mystery.

If there was a way to directly alter the brain, I could fix all these issues, add new procedures for learning new skills. Sadly, all that can be done are 'tricks' to try and influence development in the right direction, and hope for the best.
Tags: learning, thoughts

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