This is one of the patterns that the authors recommend in the second chapter of the book. The white belt refers to the lowest level in ranking in certain competitions, the highest being a black belt.
The authors use this analogy when one is trying to learn something new within their field of expertise. The learners have to bring themselves to a point of starting the learning process all over again forgetting any prior knowledge that they may have in that field.
This allows them to learn how to work with the new concepts in the best way possible and not limiting themselves due to prior knowledge. Another advantage the authors mention is that it helps you learn faster. You may look foolish for a while even though you are skilled but in the long run you will be able to become a better master of the new skill that you are learning.
The example of the program given was a great example of how wearing white belt may help your understanding of the new concepts. The algorithm was designed to print a set of six distinct number from 1 to 49. Going in with prior knowledge the algorithm made would have been much longer compared to when you have a new white belt approach to learning the language.
In the action part the also shows how important it is that we have others who have gone ahead of us guide us as we learn the new skills in our misunderstanding.
The pattern described is very important and vital to growth, growth in the right way as you learn new skills and add to your skill set. It might be hard for you to become foolish for a short while but the gains are more benficial in the end run.
This pattern can be widely applied not only in programming but life in general. Most times we end up learning how to do new things but due to knowledge that we have prior it limits us from fully learning and embracing the new skill. A white belt approach enables us to learn faster and have a better understanding of the topic at hand.