We all want to better at learning... but how do we do that?

It is essential to realize that there are no shortcuts. Nobody is really born an expert at anything, it all comes down to sustained hard work, directed at the right problems. Watching videos is not hard work. Reading books is not hard work. Following tutorials is not hard work.

Those are hard truths, but you will never improve if you find yourself in a passive role while learning. You might "learn" some vocab words, but the way things fit together will never click.

This course is designed to force you to work. It provides a resource or two (and sometimes just search terms) and tells you to go figure it out and return when you have the answer.

The Paradox of Choice

The hardest thing about teaching yourself how to be a hacker is not the material itself, but rather, how much material there is. When you look at a list of resources your eyes will glaze over and no matter how well you are able to visualize where you want to end up, you will struggle to find the next step forward, Azeria, a badass reverse engineer, wrote an article on this phenomenon named The Paradox of Choice. In it she describes the situation you are in right now, with big goals and infinite paths forward in front of you, as well as describing a mechanism for choosing which resources will get you towards your desired result.

What sets this course apart is that we don't assume any knowledge and start from the absolute basics. We point you at your first step to take, and a task to ensure you understand what you just learned. Once you finish a task, we give you a clearly defined next step. And a step after that. And a hundred more steps after that. You don't have the ability yet to determine what the best resources for you are; so place your trust in us that we will take you on the most effective and efficient route. If at any point you get lost, or confused, or just need more motivation, there are mentors and tons of other people taking the course available to help.

Another great piece by Azeria describes The Process of Mastering a Skill. It is a wonderful intro to the psychology of learning and who you are as a student, currently dipping your toes into the Apprenticeship stage. I want to really drive home some things she says in here:

  1. "Move toward resistance and pain, avoid the easy path". The original slogan of my site was "The Slowest Way to Learn Security", and I mean it, though I changed it because it doesn't do well for marketing. You must intentionally seek out what is hard, and what you do not know, and deliberately work through the problems you are face. The easy path towards feeling like you have learned something is watching a few hours of video courses and calling it a day. The hard way forward is lowering your shoulder and committing to Deep Work for a few hours of reading technical material, taking notes, and most importantly, getting hands on keyboard.

  2. "Trust the process". This course does everything in its power to take care of you and build you the best possible foundation for future success. Some parts of it are boring; a lot of it is hard. Some of it is both boring and hard. This is how it works, and you will have to put the time in. Nobody managed to cheat their way past putting in the hours with their hands on the keyboard. Nobody.

While we're on this, I'm going to let you in on one more dirty secret. It is impossible to be an expert in all aspects of cybersecurity. Even the best people in one dark corner are total noobs in another. And that is fine, and is totally expected. There's too much out there to learn it all. Mastery is something you achieve of a very specific aspect of information security, not the entire kit and caboodle. All you can do is keep working at things and eventually, you will start understanding more because you have a strong foundation to build on. We are here to help you build that foundation.

At the end of this course you will have learned enough to decide what you want to specialize in so that you can learn the skills you need to get a job in that specific skillset. We have courses to help with that as well, and we can provide help with resumes.

As you go through this we will introduce you to other learning techniques, but to sum it all up: take notes, look back over the material regularly, and understand that the only thing that actually will contribute to future success is putting the time in now.

Last modified: Tuesday, 26 January 2021, 1:39 PM