Apprenticeship Patterns: Breakable Toys

The second Apprenticeship pattern I would like to discuss is titled “Breakable Toys.” This pattern is based on the idea that experience is built upon failure. Because many software developers work in an environment that does not allow them to fail, they have trouble learning more about development and improving their skills. This pattern encourages developers to work on smaller projects outside of their work environment, giving them a way to experiment and make mistakes without the usual consequences. Creating these “Breakable Toys” allows developers to learn new things about their usual tools while working on enjoyable projects, which helps them gain useful experience that they could not have acquired in their usual work environment.

I chose to share this pattern because of my own experiences working with Breakable Toys. When I was first learning to program in high school, I would always spend time outside of class working on my own projects. My passion for programming was at its height when it was still new to me, as I constantly wanted to learn more about it. Since starting college, however, I have felt that passion gradually fade. Programming became a central focus of my education, especially after transferring to WSU for Computer Science. My fear of failing in my classes caused me to associate programming with stress and anxiety instead of passion and enjoyment. I eventually stopped working on Breakable Toys, as my attention was completely directed towards classwork and I felt that personal projects were a waste of my time.

Reading this pattern has helped me realize how important my Breakable Toys really were. They contributed to my learning far more than any classwork ever has. They allowed me to figure out new skills at my own pace and let me experiment with them without worrying about failure. For example, due to my focus on Game Development, my Toys helped me learn more about programming graphics than my classes have and they helped me understand the basics of how game engines function by programming them myself. This pattern has made me realize that my personal projects were never a waste of time, as they helped me learn new skills quickly and enjoy myself while doing it. Going forward, I hope to get back to working on Breakable Toys outside of my work environment, as I now realize how important they are to my learning.

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