Report on your learning of the concepts and issues as if you were not in a class, but an independent, autonomous student — not “for the teacher”, but as if your new job required you to show up in 30 days actually knowing enough about SQL to so you could join a business team
- Talk/Write You are not writing to “please the teacher”, but to learn for yourself, and the easiest way to do this is to invite a classmate or someone not taking this class and explaining things: then, you are explaining things to a no-bullshit audience, a real life person, and not some abstraction
- Avoid Bad Habits Learning is likely not going on much when you intake a lot of stuff (“stoff”, “inhalt”) in lectures and regurgitate it in the examination, like simple definitions and formulas that surely are important but really don’t interest you because of the way you learned them
- Integrate into what you know Reading is when we lift our eyes off the page and reflect on what we have just read, compare to things we know, discuss things with others, identify what is new, and write down the “donkey’s bridge” that we think will help us understand and remember later on
- You are wonderful! You folks are VERY good at being the first kind of student (it is what has been expected of you, and it got you this far), but like me and every other professional you want to be on the path of developing lifetime learning skills, looking at the most basic things with the curiosity and wonder they deserve
- Stories are not trivial Head First SQL shows us how to do this when they offer drawings of rows and columns, showing how they are blocks of texts, and when they write up little stories, explanations, and discussions that explain but also connect to images, memories, conversations — scenarious, case studies: business school thrive on these powerful ways of learning, so in your first semester it is probably a good idea to slow down and figure out what is going on
- Your Goal is to become an independent, autonomous student (here, of BizInfo)
Report on your learning of the major concepts of SQL
- Explain what you have come to understand of tables, columns, rows, command statements, etc.
- When, for example, you read about databases, look at page 9 and put yourself in the place of the bewildered student in the middle and list all the databases you interact with on a daily basis, or better, on those you interact with today, for example: if the point is to see them everywhere, don’t simple copy-and-paste somebody else’s idea as you read it in a book, do explore your own memory and ideas and using your own experiences, contacts, discussions, scrap books, notes, etc., etc.: if you don’t connect new things to you, to what you know from life, chances are very good you will forget them
Do the exercises
- Really, for one second, stop making believe you know everyting and walk through the simplest, dumbest exercises, like on page 11, “be the table” where they have offered post-it notes and an incomplete table: fill that table in, every single cell in every row, and then write about what happened, for example, the experience of “finally I am finished!,” and “oh, this is repetitive,” and next to “am finished” note what this means (“everything is in its place,” as the first page promises, “this is a transaction that achieves completion”) and next to “this is repetitive” write things like “the tables are consistent, dependable,” and, “oh, I get it, each bit of information is assigned a category/column” and “for each object we have a row”.
Break the habit of rushing through things blindly
- When you say, “oh, this is just a picture of what they explained,” all you are really learning is to dismiss the exercise and its purpose, which is to say that you are learning nothing; but if you slow down, do the thing, observe, reflect, write things down, etc., the chances are very good that some very important dimension will reveal itself to you, and if you are observent and take notes, you might actually figure out what it is and do something that will help you to remember
Humankind figure out relational databases only about 45 years ago, this discovery was not trivial
- Before the Renaissance, human beings did not have a system of representing bodies, which meant that the sizes and shapes of heads, hands, torso and so on were all odd, out of shape, appearing arbitrary (to modern eyes), but after the Renaissance, when painters figured out the rules, they and their audience saw things differently: so it is with databases: nobody, absolutely nobody before 1970 saw data and what could be done with it like we do since relational databases were conceived, in the 1970s, as you will read Relational Database.
- This means, that when you try to wrap your head around the basics of tables and relational database systems, which the textbook tries to make simple, you are actually entering into something incredibly complex and profound: read (again) Relational Database until you convince yourself that there really is a there there, then go back to HF SQL, where the exercises are immediately relevant and I hope accessible to beginners and see how they are getting at the fundamentals you read about in the history
Similarly, learn how to read Teixeira’s article on the dilemmas of a company confronting Amazon as if you were learning how to read — really read, for understand, for business, for your life, and not just to “please the teacher for a good grade”
- Reading really does mean lifting your eyes off the page and talking to other people about it: until you really learn how to do this, you are probably piling things up in your head in as you learned years ago, in school, and so your explanations written down do not sound as smart as you really do sound when you explain something you know something about to your friends — like Nana explained in just a second her understanding or the way Jana made a joke in class that I did not get.
- Here’s my theory: in our daily lives, with the things that we care about and talk about with our friends and family and colleagues at work, we are wonderfully knowledgeable, fluent, sophisticated, and communicative, but when it comes to learning, really learning, we approach incredibly sophisticated things like relational databases as if we were just filling in the blanks on a form and pushing a button like we do on dumb exams in dumb courses that we don’t like and hope to be done with soon. If you learn how to learn SQL in new ways, even in these last three weeks, you will learn far more than you would ever learn sititng in dumb rows of chairs as we found in room 129, with all this e-learning nonsense, and where is not is really the way it is.
Identify the concepts and issues of the Teixeira article
- “Mark was considering business strategies …” we learn on the first page: look up “business strategy” or even “strategic management” so you have a chance to imagine what they are inviting you to imagine: a manager on a team of managers having to worry about such things, and make a note of what you learn (short, keep a note of what you can come back to later when you take a course on Strategic Management).
- His two direct reports were split, and this is not imply an anecdote, but if you read about strategic management, this is ALWAYS the case, managers ALWAYS have to choose between options. Sure, some managers just follow a plan and tell other people what to do and check their work, that’s easy, but somebody had to come up with that plan, and if the business is to survive that plan needs to be changed.
- Circle such phrases and interrogate them, and so learn how to break down a story that seems like light reading with a little drama and so forth, and see how the story is a sophisticated way of addressing concepts and issues. You want to learn how to stop, bracket, and frame the view of stories as “first I got up, and then I had my breakfast, and then I went to school,” and think instead like a wonderful mother or father or teacher or manager or the fabulous mother I saw when photographing on the Gerichtstr. in Wedding this morning at 7am walking her daughter to school and where the daughter was wearing white shoes with 4cm heels and was falling all over the place, her mother holding her hand and both encouraging her and laughing at her stumbling about, the girl, probably six years old, clearly proud of those shoes and wanting to wear them, was finding out in the most direct way possible why her mother was wearing sneakers, and the mother organizing an experiment and helping her daughter learn something important: you job is to learn how to transform these business stories into concepts, issues, and your learning, because you are here to learn about business, right?, and business information systems, like Amazon, present businesses with remarkable combinations of sometimes glorious opportunity, considerable challenge, and terrifying risk, and stories, like case studies at Harvard, are powerful ways of posing significant, memorable problems. (
and to learn about it you might
- Install an tracking blocker, as I did, and become horrified to watch how, in about five days, the app blocked 1,000 tracking cookies, saving me 100mb of data and about 35 minutes of waiting time (our phones are slow because mostly other people are using them to learn about us)
Then, be horrified and learn what you might do about it
- Learn how to control your phone’s privacy settings
- Do this with a partner, discuss it, and report on your learning