Post # 18 – Reflection on the “Breakable Toys” Pattern

This semester, I am tasked with writing 10 blog posts, each being a reflection of a pattern defined in the book Apprenticeship Patterns: Guidance for the Aspiring Software Craftsman by Dave Hoover and Adewale Oshineye – this is the first of those blog posts.

This week, I will be writing a reflection on the “Breakable Toys” pattern.  The use of this pattern arises in the situation where a developer feels like failure in the workplace is not an option, and desires a safe space in which he or she can make mistakes and not suffer terrible consequences as a result.  Most people believe that failure is one of the best ways, if not the best way, to learn anything and so, if a person feels like they are in a situation where failure is not an option, it becomes harder for them to learn in that situation.  The “Breakable Toys” pattern is the solution for developers in a similar situation to the one I have just described.  A “breakable toy” is a personal project that is similar in toolset, but not in scope, to a system that you would typically see at work.  The idea behind using a “breakable toy” is that it allows you to try your ideas and techniques, safely, even if they lead to a catastrophic failure.  On this scale, the outcome of your attempts will only affect you, giving you the freedom to learn from your efforts without the fear of affecting others in the process.

The reason I chose this pattern to be the first subject of reflection in this series, is because it is a pattern that I already try to utilize in my own life.  I am currently trying to land my first internship as a developer and a couple of the companies I have been in contact with have asked me to complete coding problems (as you would expect).  I am a person who has a slight fear of failure – not enough to prevent me from trying to achieve things, but enough to give me a ton of anxiety in ‘make or break’ situations – so I began creating “breakable toys” to refresh my knowledge of data structures, algorithms, and fundamental programming concepts.  These “breakable toys” were quite useful to me, and they helped me to solve the programming problems, posed by my potential employers, in the interview process.  I also found a lot of enjoyment in creating “breakable toys” and solving coding challenges, so I have started to make more of an effort to make that a regular activity in my life.  I believe I am starting to utilize another pattern covered in the book: “Practice, practice, practice”, which will likely be the subject of next week’s reflection.

Thanks for reading.

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