Thursday, January 3, 2013

Procedural Fluency, Slow Tech and programming

TLDR; I have a hunch that the crisis of attention that we are facing may affect the number of us that reach procedural fluency in our various vocations.

This video introduces the idea of slow tech, it is only peripheral to my discussion but gives valuable context.

I occasionally find myself exploring education theory (I can sometimes sound like I know what I'm speaking about), recently I've had an interest in Mathematics education (I teach my children Maths). It is fascinating to see first hand how they learn and what works for them. If you've done anything more than cursory reading about the teaching of Mathematics, you may have come across the idea of procedural fluency.

Procedural fluency can be thought of as the extent to which a person can efficiently complete a task in a predictable and repeatable way. In the absence of procedural fluency the learner can become distracted by the process and may lose site of the goal (or problem).  Fluency is attained by becoming proficient with the vocabulary and methodologies of the given discipline.

So it seems to me that this idea can overflow into the realm of programming. What are the key procedures that a programmer needs to become competent in before they can become fluent problem solvers?


I have some questions:

Does the lack of procedural fluency combined with modern distractions reduce the ability to learn skills like programming?

What if the number of technologies that surround us every day actually are working against our ability to develop procedural fluency? Is diminished procedural fluency a a bad thing?

Could we improve our procedural fluency by reducing the things that steal our attention?

Recommended Reading

Check out this discussion on the "shallows".

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