Never stop asking why
There are two different times that we look things up:
- When we are learning something new
- When we have a problem that needs fixing asap
When we’re students* we’re all in on learning. This is when we can take the time to learn things on a deeper level.
- by students, I mean anyone who is actively trying to learn something new, be them actual students, or learning something new on the side
Then there are times when reality sets in. We’re working on a project that has a deadline and something isn’t working. We need to find a solution, and it doesn’t matter how it works, all that matters is that it works!
One problem I see with students who are learning something new is that they’re often happy when something works. It doesn’t matter if they don’t know why it works, but they are happy that it works and that means it’s time to move on.
That’s acceptable when you’re under a deadline and you just need to push something out. In those cases, as long as it doesn’t break anything else, we can commit and move on and figure out the why later.
But for someone who’s trying to actively learn something new, you cannot do this.
The best students never do this
When I’m teaching in the classroom, the top students in my classes are always the ones who take the time to call me over and ask why something worked.
They’ll have found some code online, or they’re following a Photoshop tutorial to get a specific look on an image, and everything works as it’s supposed to work, but they have no idea why it worked, so they call me over.
This is so important.
By asking “why?” any time you don’t fully understand something, you are opening the door to learning more.
And I know that not everyone has a teacher walking around the classroom whose literal job is to answer your questions. That doesn’t give you an out though, it simply means that you have a little more work to do.
Asking the right questions is important!
While asking “why” is the first step, the next step is asking high-value questions instead of “why does this work”.
You might do some research and find the answer you’re looking for and you are golden, but that isn’t always the case.
Sometimes, you will reach out to someone or post a question on StackExchange, and in those cases, you need to go out of your way to ask a high-value question.
These are questions that extract maximum value.
They extract maximum value by not only asking how to fix that one very specific problem you are having but asking finding out what is causing that problem in the first place.
Being able to ask high-value questions is a crazy useful skill, and if it’s something that you aren’t too sure about, I’ve created a short ebook that goes over how to start formulating better questions!
Whatever you do, never stop asking questions
It doesn’t matter what you’re working on, keep asking questions. The more you ask, the better. Question not only why something does work, but if you aren’t super confident in what is happening, also question why something does work.
If you want to be good at all this front-end stuff, it’s not just a matter of getting things to work, but it’s a matter of understanding how they work so that you can keep using it and start writing code with confidence!