无语的大牙

Paul Graham谈年轻人在学习中要主动

美国著名程序员、博客作者和技术作家保罗·格雷厄姆(Paul Graham)在其个人网站上的长文《How to do great work》给仍然雄心勃勃的年轻人提了一些建议,适合每位对自己仍有期望的朋友反复阅读。下面是本文的第十七部分摘录:


One of the most valuable kinds of knowledge you get from experience is to know what you don’t have to worry about. The young know all the things that could matter, but not their relative importance. So they worry equally about everything, when they should worry much more about a few things and hardly at all about the rest.

But what you don’t know is only half the problem with inexperience. The other half is what you do know that ain’t so. You arrive at adulthood with your head full of nonsense — bad habits you’ve acquired and false things you’ve been taught — and you won’t be able to do great work till you clear away at least the nonsense in the way of whatever type of work you want to do.

Much of the nonsense left in your head is left there by schools. We’re so used to schools that we unconsciously treat going to school as identical with learning, but in fact schools have all sorts of strange qualities that warp our ideas about learning and thinking.

For example, schools induce passivity. Since you were a small child, there was an authority at the front of the class telling all of you what you had to learn and then measuring whether you did. But neither classes nor tests are intrinsic to learning; they’re just artifacts of the way schools are usually designed.

The sooner you overcome this passivity, the better. If you’re still in school, try thinking of your education as your project, and your teachers as working for you rather than vice versa. That may seem a stretch, but it’s not merely some weird thought experiment. It’s the truth, economically, and in the best case it’s the truth intellectually as well. The best teachers don’t want to be your bosses. They’d prefer it if you pushed ahead, using them as a source of advice, rather than being pulled by them through the material.

Schools also give you a misleading impression of what work is like. In school they tell you what the problems are, and they’re almost always soluble using no more than you’ve been taught so far. In real life you have to figure out what the problems are, and you often don’t know if they’re soluble at all.

But perhaps the worst thing schools do to you is train you to win by hacking the test. You can’t do great work by doing that. You can’t trick God. So stop looking for that kind of shortcut. The way to beat the system is to focus on problems and solutions that others have overlooked, not to skimp on the work itself.

从经验中获得的最有价值的知识之一就是明白你不需担忧什么。年轻人倒是知道所有可能重要的事情,但他们并不知道这些事情的相对重要性。结果就是他们把所有事情都看得一样重要,而实际上他们应该更关注某几个方面,对其他的则根本不必担忧。

然而,你不了解的只是经验不足的一半问题。另一半问题在于你认为你了解的,但实际上并非如此。当你成年时,你的脑袋里充满了误解——你养成的坏习惯和被教导的错误理念——直到你清除了至少那些阻碍你工作的错误理念,你才能做出杰出的工作。

你头脑中的许多错误理念是学校留下的。我们如此习惯于上学以至于我们下意识地认为上学就等同于学习,但实际上,学校有许多奇特的属性,这些属性扭曲了我们对学习和思考的理解。

例如,学校会造成我们的被动心态。从你小的时候开始,课堂上的权威性人物就告诉你需要学习什么并检查你是否学会。但是,上课和考试并不是学习的固有元素;它们只是学校常规设计的产物。

尽早摆脱这种被动心态是有益的。如果你还在学校,试着把你的学习视为自己的项目,把老师看作是为你服务的,而不是反过来。这可能听上去有些牵强,但在经济上,甚至在心理上,这都是真实的。好的老师并不想做你的老板,他们更愿意你能够主动行动,用他们作为建议的来源,而不是被他们在教材上拉拉扯扯。

学校还会给你一个对工作的误导印象。在学校,他们会告诉你问题是什么,而且这些问题几乎都能用你目前所学的知识解决。在现实生活中,你需要自己弄明白问题是什么,而且你常常并不确定这些问题是否有解。

但或许学校对你最坏的影响是训练你通过应试技巧来获得胜利。但是,你无法通过这种方式做出伟大的工作。你无法骗过上帝。所以,停止寻找这样的捷径。战胜系统的方法是专注于那些被其他人忽视的问题和解决方案,而不是偷工减料。

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