I learnt a new word today. It’s probably a sign that I’m getting old and am no longer “down with the kids”, although that’s probably more evident by the fact that I even use the phrase “down with the kids”. Anyway, I learnt the word “Grok”. Apparently groking (or is it grokking?) is commonplace among 733t programmers.

Anyway, according to UrbanDictionary.com Grok can mean the following things:

  • To understand – as in “It took me a long time to grok Perl, but now I can read it without going blind!”
  • To understand intuitively, or through empathy
  • To become one with
  • Also ‘love’, ‘hate’, and much more. To grok means to understand and empathize with something or someone to the extent that the object or person becomes part of ones’ sense self. (Enders’ Game, anyone?)
So big deal, I learnt a new word. People learn new words all the time. I learnt the word “snodchortle” only last week, why is Grok so important? Well, because last week I was also reading about something called the Dreyfus model of Skill Acquisition.

Dreyfus Model of Skill Acquisition

If you Grok something, you understand it intuitively. 733t programmers grok stuff all the time and that means that they find it difficult to explain how they arrived at any conclusion, or why they did something in a particular way to other, less able people. Intuition doesn’t come with reasoning.

In a lot of the topics I work on I would probably place myself somewhere between Advanced Beginner and Competent. The things I do more of I would probably place myself a little higher, but this also puts me in a difficult place professionally, because as I strive to climb the Dreyfus model to become more of an expert, I also need to remember to remain grounded in order to retain any ability I may have to explain what may become intuitive, and therefore unexplainable.

Where do you place yourself, or your peers on the Dreyfus model?