My friends Dave Thomas and Andy Huntthe Pragmatic Programmers—are always teaching me new things. This time, it’s “The Dreyfus Model of Skills Acquisition.” I ran across the slides from Andy’s talk at JAOO. Everyone involved in software development should be aware of this.

The funny thing, to me, is where I think it came from. A few months ago, while Dave and I were having lunch one day, he mentioned that he was reading a book about the history of nursing. My first thought was “that’s weird,” followed immediately by “I bet he’ll learn something interesting that applies to programming.” And sure enough, there are strong hints in Andy’s talk that they learned of the Dreyfus model through historical connections with the nursing profession.

One of the slides makes this point:

Experience comes from practice. (Broad and general, not narrow and specific.) Dave and Andy certainly cast their nets wide, and they are prime examples of the value of a generalist approach.