[nSLUG] New User Advise

robert ashley at chebucto.ca
Tue May 10 14:10:03 ADT 2005

On Tue, 2005-10-05 at 13:00 -0300, Donald Teed wrote:
> On 5/10/05, robert <ashley at chebucto.ca> wrote:
> > One of the challenges for the new learner of Linux, as I see it, is that
> > there is no established pedagogical practice. Experts thus approach
> > passing along their knowledge from multivarious, highly idiosyncratic or
> > localized angles. It's dizzying to a new user. Contrast this with the
> > study of, say, classical piano. This art cannot be less complex or less
> > difficult than the challenge of learning Linux, but there's a
> > well-established, historically rooted community of pedagogs and theories
> > of learning music. Generally it's effective and efficient. This pedagogy
> > is impressive to the extent that it can, and has, carried many a musical
> > dorkwad to a status of semi-competent musicianship.
> But when one learns music, they specialize in something.
> Then once they have a handle on it, they move on to other
> styles of music and/or other instruments.  You don't start off assuming
> that you are going to learn Harp, thumb piano, Juju music
> flamenco guitar, classical piano and improvisational jazz
> in the first month.

Of course, you're right here. But with all these examples a good teacher
can usually defer to and exploit a set of pre-existent, historically
rooted pedagogical principles. There are 'methods'. There's ready access
to 'programmatic learning'. Four year-old kids can learn violin
concertos, in part because of advanced pedagogy. There are 'schools' of
pedagogy, some competing, yes, but others converging. 

It's ironic, I think. The primitive technology of music enjoys a fairly
advanced pedagogy, while the advanced technology of Linux suffers a
fairly primitive pedagogy. Which is merely to say that anyone can learn
something from anyone else. Lots of great musicians have had no
programmatic training whatsoever.

> Coming back to Linux, there has probably been little else like
> this evolve so quickly and with crossover tools to offer
> the greatest flexibility.  If it were done from a purist style,
> there would be no DOS emulation available in Linux, and
> alien would not be available for installing RPM packages
> on a Debian system.  This is probably one of the reasons
> Linux has grown in popularity - it is the swiss army knife of
> operating systems.  If you see the advantage of that, then
> you'll just need some patience to learn.  If you really only
> wanted a single blade in your tool, then perhaps something
> like Mac OS would be an alternative to Windows that
> would suit you better.

Apt metaphors. No, I've got plenty of patience and I'm thoroughly
disaffected with both Mac and Windows. I perceive the advantages you
imply. What comes in to bugger attempts at carefully staged learning,
however, are the pragmatic but unruly necessities, like say a handy
workable printer. It's hardly an ideal learning situation.  

> The best reading I've seen for learning this stuff with
> purpose, are the O'Reilly texts.  They won't waste
> your time with tons o' screenshots, and they will present
> the information in a more logical and consise format
> than many publishers.

Thanks for this reading suggestion. 



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