Self Taught Self-Teaching

By Helen Foster

I’m sure all of you remember last year’s PLTW class. We typed, we built lawn ornaments, but most importantly, we learned a program called Inventor. Inventor is a 3D CAD(Computer Automated Drafting) program used to draft products 3-dimensionally. Sounds pretty straight forward, right? Well, not exactly. Last year we learned the ups and downs of Inventor and I understood it quickly without too much difficulty. It’s been about a year since we used Inventor though, and when I learned we had to do the CAD module I knew I was in trouble.

Even though I learned this program relatively easily, relearning it was a big challenge. I didn’t have a teacher guiding me through each step and I had forgotten almost everything I learned in 7th grade. I could recall some of the basics, but even those I could barely do without messing up or getting frustrated. What plane was I supposed to put my 2D shape on? Why won’t it extend? How do I get this hinge to go the right way? Why is nothing working!? I began to become very stressed because I couldn’t find a good tutorial to help me with what I needed. Ms. Deeter and Mrs. Sauter weren’t there to help me whenever I was confused, and I could ask my dad at home because he knew the program but I didn’t have access to it on my computer. I only had one option: to teach myself.

It seems hard, but self-taught learning is probably the best way to do it. It’s all about experimenting and not caring if it doesn’t work the first time. There’s no shaming in starting over from scratch or having to press Ctrl+Z until your fingers hurt. It’s all part of the learning process. If there’s anything that’s important in this class, it’s being able to teach yourself how to teach yourself. That may not make sense, but you’ll know what I mean when you try it yourself. Just open up a program and start clicking buttons. It’s not scary because there’s no consequences. If you get really stuck, there’s usually a help button, but sometimes even that often doesn’t have what you need. Experiment and try things out. You never know what you can learn if you just try.

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