Apprenticeship Patterns: Confront Your Ignorance

The context for this pattern, as described by the authors, is that you have found gaps in you skill set that are effecting your everyday work. The problem here is that your knowledge of essential tools and concepts is lagging behind that of your coworkers but you are expected to already have this knowledge as a prerequisite for being a productive member of the team. The authors explain that this particular pattern goes hand-in-hand with the “Expose Your Ignorance Pattern.” They stress the importance of adopting both of these patterns simultaneously as just adhering to one or the other can present problems of their own. For instance, by only exposing your ignorance and never confronting it you may end up in a constant state of ignorance and being overly dependent on other team members when it comes to completing essential tasks relating to the project at hand.  On the other hand, if you only confront your ignorance without ever exposing it you may be missing out on valuable insights your team members could provide you not to mention the fact that you may spend too much time trying to learn specific concepts that could have been easily explained to you by a team member who already has the knowledge you are seeking. According to the authors, the solution to this problem is to “strike a delicate balance” between these two patterns in order to ensure you are learning the essential skills necessary for your role without wasting to much time and allowing you to be as productive as possible.

I found this pattern to be quite relatable in my current role as a Security Analyst. When I first joined the team I had very little knowledge when it came to essential information security concepts. For example, in security it is crucial to have a fundamental understanding of how the different layers in the OSI network model function. This can be quite overwhelming at first considering that each of the seven layers have different functionality along with a multitude of associated protocols that they must adhere to. Luckily my team has been really supportive in helping me gain the necessary knowledge and skills by giving me practice problems and either providing me the resources necessary to learn essential skills or pointing me in the right direction to where I can find helpful resources. I think up to this point I’ve been able to maintain a healthy balance of exposing and confronting my ignorance but the advice provided in this pattern will definitely be useful going forward.



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