Jono Shields

Self Taught

Jono’s experiences with self learning


I make a bunch of things.

My Github report card says that last year I made 372 commits across 28 repos in 5 languages. People ask me why I do it, spend 40 hours coding at work then go home and do more. It’s because I love it. Sure I could watch TV, play video games, hang out with friends or even go outside. It’s not like I don’t do these things though, but maybe less than others.

So passion is pretty key for me. It gives me the motivation I need to do this. But sometimes even when I want to do something the motivation isn’t always there.

A long time ago I worked in retail.

It was a job.

In my first year as we prepared for holiday period my manager gave this super inspirational speech…

Enthusiasm is one of the most powerful engines of success. When you do a thing, do it with all your might. Put your whole soul into it. Stamp it with your personality. Be active, be energetic and faithful and you will accomplish your goal. Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

This was the whiteboard in our lunch room 6 years ago.

It stuck with me ever since. It is hard for me to find motivation, sometimes even with things that I love. But going head first at 110% is something I find easier to do. It’s hard to be passionate about everything, especially the more tedious parts of a project. But you know what they say?

Honestly just try it. I was cynical at first too. But it works.

Just don’t make the same mistake I did, look after yourself. I was going all out when I felt inspired and when I didn’t, which is pretty much all the time in the day.


Motivation. Tick. Enthusiasm. Tick.

This is the bit where I got lost

Right now I am certain that if something has enough documentation then I can learn it or at least give it a decent go. But I am not sure how I got to this point. It is like all of a sudden some time ago a confidence switch turned on in my brain. I know I can solve problems and find answers.

So what is that?

How to learn how to learn?

I volunteer at codeclub every week with 10-12 year olds. I love it more than anything else I do because I get to share what I am passionate about with others. I want to help them get to the stage where they don’t need me anymore. So last year when they asked me for help I started replying with “Did you Google it?” and encouraging them to look for their own solutions first.

It is tough holding back the answers, especially when I am so keen to share them. But I want to foster initiative and self learning.

So this is where I am right now. Most still don’t do a google search before asking for help. I am suspicious that it’s because they haven’t done it before and are not confident in their own ability to find the solution. I worry that it’s a fear of failure.

But I don’t want to push them too far, I don’t want them to stop enjoying it.

It is almost like we need an codeclub tutorial that forces kids to google to find the answers.


Okay I might actually do this. Write an exercise or something. Also talk about your downfalls more Jono, mistakes are a key part of learning and I make a hell of a lot of them.