Pragmatic Thinking & Learning Reviewed

From the moment I started reading this book, I had a hard time putting it down. I read it far into the night. I read it waiting for oil changes, tattoos, and computer reboots. I re-read parts of it while I was still reading it. Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I took a lot away from it.


First of all, what is this book all about? After all, we all should know how to think and learn by now, right? Well, that’s the big kicker, as it turns out. A lot of the things we were taught about learning might have worked growing up. And a lot of that was wrong, too. There are a lot of websites, blogs, books, magazines, articles, and wags out there who claim to have the secret to make you a more effective person if only you follow these ten guidelines. Pragmatic Thinking & Learning isn’t one of those books. It’s not a how to book. It’s not a tutorial or instruction manual. It’s a reference manual.

How Does it Work?

[caption id=“attachment_982” align=“alignright” width=“150”]This book is endorsed by cheesy DBAs everywhere. This book is endorsed by cheesy DBAs everywhere.[/caption] Pragmatic Thinking & Learning is based on copious amounts of research on learning backed up by real world results. This is more than one lone programmer’s ideas on how we should learn. It’s based on research across a number of fields – from nursing to the cognitive sciences – and references are provided to all of the source material. If you were so inclined, this would be a great introduction to a variety of theories. One of the most important things that Pragmatic Thinking & Learning stresses is that, just like programming, we need to constantly be refactoring our thought processes. Instead of focusing on something that works, Andy Hunt stresses the importance of looking at how something works, why it works, and what could be going better. As much of the process of effective learning comes from unlearning bad habits while learning good ones. While many authors leave it at that and let the reader decide how to unlearn, Andy provides strategies, backed by research, to make change possible. He stresses the importance of engaging the whole brain and provides ways to do so. This book is chock full of exercises that are designed to get the reader geared up and refactoring their thought processes in no time.


Pragmatic Thinking & Learning is a great book. It’s going on my shelf next toGetting Things Done and I plan on re-reading both books in six months to see what I’m doing wrong, what I’m doing right, and what I can be doing better. This book will be a distinct asset to re-working my process. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to rethink how they’re doing things and thinks that there is a better way.