My flashcard refactoring for today is a reminder of the classic knowledge construction advice: do not add what you do not understand. It is also a reminder of the importance of providing enough related cards in your deck for a piece of knowledge.
Here’s the card I came across that was giving me trouble, related to SQL programming (double-sided):
- Side 1: Oracle SQL syntax for creating object table
- Side 2: CREATE TABLE (table name) OF (object type)
When revisiting this card, I realized that I didn’t have a good concept of what “object tables” are, so this is definitely a case of not understanding the material before committing it to spaced repetition.
But the thing is, I wouldn’t have added it if I didn’t have a good understanding of object tables, at the time of adding knowledge to my spaced repetition system. The problem is I forgot the concept of “object tables”, and seeing the answer to this card was not enough to bring it back. I didn’t have any other cards in my deck about “object tables” and how they differ from other related concepts in Oracle SQL such as nested tables.
In a situation like this, it helps to go back to the source, clarify any misunderstanding, and add new cards that solidify your knowledge.
So, in this case, I looked up Oracle documentation and found a great article almost immediately that clarified the meaning. It also provided a bunch of useful nomenclature for closely related concepts, providing further scaffolding for the knowledge. This lead me to add a bunch of cards:
- Card 1 (Cloze): Objects can be stored in two types of tables: [object tables] and [relational tables].
- Card 2 (Basic 1-sided Q&A):
- Q: What’s the difference between object tables and relational tables? (Oracle SQL)
- A: Object tables store only objects Relational tables store objects with other table data
- Card 3 (Basic 1-sided Q&A):
- Q: What does each row represent in an object table? (Oracle SQL)
- A: An Object
So to recap, here the main lessons from this refactoring:
- Don’t add stuff to spaced repetition that you don’t understand
- Make sure you add enough knowledge about the concept in your deck, so there is sufficient context for you to understand again when you forget
- When dealing with 1 or 2, the solution is to go back to the original source to understand the knowledge and add more relevant material.
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