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REVIEW: "Pragmatic Thinking and Learning", Andy Hunt

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  • Rob, grandpa of Ryan, Trevor, Devon & Han
    BKPTLRYW.RVW 20081128 Pragmatic Thinking and Learning , Andy Hunt, 2008, 978-1-934356-05-0, U$34.95/C$34.95 %A Andy Hunt andy@pragprog.com %C 103 Morris
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 26, 2009
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      BKPTLRYW.RVW 20081128

      "Pragmatic Thinking and Learning", Andy Hunt, 2008, 978-1-934356-05-0,
      U$34.95/C$34.95
      %A Andy Hunt andy@...
      %C 103 Morris Street, Suite A, Sebastopol, CA 95472
      %D 2008
      %G 978-1-934356-05-0 1-934356-05-0
      %I O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.
      %O U$34.95/C$34.95 707-829-0515 fax: 707-829-0104 nuts@...
      %O http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1934356050/robsladesinterne
      http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/1934356050/robsladesinte-21
      %O http://www.amazon.ca/exec/obidos/ASIN/1934356050/robsladesin03-20
      %O Audience n Tech 1 Writing 1 (see revfaq.htm for explanation)
      %P 271 p.
      %T "Pragmatic Thinking and Learning: Refactor Your Wetware"

      Paperbacks don't have endpapers, but there is an illustration before
      the table of contents, which turns out to be a "back of napkin"
      mindmap version of the table of contents.

      Chapter one acts as an introduction to the book. It states that the
      intention of the text is to allow you to redesign your brain so that
      it works better. There are few specifics given at this point, but
      there is a lot of emphasis on holistic, agile, and context. Models of
      moving from ignorance to expertise, such at the Dreyfus model of
      skills acquisition and the Shu Ha Ri martial arts model, are outlined
      in limited fashion in chapter two. Unfortunately, the brevity of the
      explanation leads to problems. The material is internally
      contradictory: for example Dreyfus "proficient" level people are said
      to "see the big picture" whereas novices are derided for considering
      everything. Hunt notes that experts may not be capable of teaching or
      outlining their field of expertise. This is unsurprising: teaching
      and task analysis are not inate, but require specialized proficiency.
      In chapter three Hunt proposes his own version of the "left
      brain/right brain" hypothesis. Chapter four suggests various
      exercises that may be helpful for promoting lateral or creative
      thinking. A seemingly random collection of notions about human
      thought biases are listed in chapter five. Hunt's assertion that
      these prejudices generate problems appears reasonable, but some of the
      items seem in odd contention with other material in the book.
      (Earlier chapters rail against the overuse of the "logical" side of
      the brain: here Hunt notes that one way to avoid irrational ideas is
      to demand quantification.) Most of chapter six is about life-long
      learning, although it starts with a distinct section suggesting that
      you set goals for yourself. Some disjointed advice for learning by
      experience is given in chapter seven. In contrast to the emphasis,
      from chapters one and three, on divergent thinking, chapter eight
      stresses the importance of narrowing your focus. Except that you have
      to defocus in order to focus. Clean off your computer desktop: cut
      down to one window. Except that you need to have some distractions
      available ... Chapter nine encourages you to change.

      There are some interesting ideas in the book. Individual items could
      be useful for pushing thinking out of ingrained ruts. However, by and
      large, the author promises more than he delivers.

      copyright Robert M. Slade, 2008 BKPTLRYW.RVW 20081128


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      Why don't you write books people can read? - Nora Joyce, to James
      http://victoria.tc.ca/techrev/rms.htm
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      http://blogs.securiteam.com/index.php/archives/author/p1/
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