On each level of experience in any domain of knowledge your understanding of the basic definitions and the basic concepts goes deeper. You learn more, you collate, you reconsider.

I don’t remember the source of these “4 stages of any student” in my head, but I just wanted to share this simple, yet useful concept with you.

Stage 1: Ignorance

Perceived, accepted lack of knowledge — is a starting point for any education to happen. This is really huge phase: you need to accept, that you simply don’t know or don’t understand something — to be able to start learning.

In other words, humility — is a universal thing for any personal growth to happen. And (on the contrary) the pride — is a universal thing, that prevents you from being a student of any kind.

Once you’ve got at this stage and accepted your defeat, the doors to your education get opened. And now you can move to the next stage (if you want): repeating.

Stage 2: Repeating

Repeating means following. You simply do what you’ve been told. You follow existing path. You learn the rules. You try to reproduce. At this phase you can even don’t understand why you do all these actions: you just cook on the recipe, you do karate kata, whatsoever.

At this stage you simply accept all definitions as given because you simply want to make it work. That’s why you follow and repeat after others.

Stage 3: Improvisation

Improvisation — is an attempt to adapt a known pattern (repeating) to a specific situation. It is all about adequacy.

Rehearsed routine lacks the flexibility to adapt to a current situation
— Bruce Lee in a Game of Death movie

When you repeated something dozen times or followed the path for a long time then you start being tired, you start seeking the ways for optimisations, you want to make the routine more alive, more fitting to you personally and to your particular case — that’s why you start to improvizate.

And you continue your adaptations of the routines till you reach the last stage of the student: Superiority over the path.

Stage 4: Superiority over the teacher

At this stage you create your own interpretation and continuation of the path that you followed before. You make an impact that no one did before you and others start to follow you on your path.

You build a school (create new rules). And at some point the number of your followers and greatness of them may become more powerful than the followers of that old school path that you studied from.

That’s the point of superiority over the teacher.

And although returning to a Stage 1 is never a bad idea (I mean from any stage you can return to a Stage 1) from the Stage 4 the only way forward — is to the Stage 1: Ignorance!

And an interesting thing here: if at the Stage 4 you have pride instead of humility, then you’ll stop being a student and you’ll die for the further education! That’s why the pride is the one (and the main) of 7 death sins. And this is not a myth from religion: this is a real thing, that is obvious for everyone who is ready to see it!

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Thank you!

I write about practical and effective techniques that help me and my colleagues in everyday software development and testing.

I write about practical and effective techniques that help me and my colleagues in everyday software development and testing.