In putting together a syllabus for a chemistry class, I came across a realization which I have been slowly learning, but which I think would be rather helpful if we were each told this upon entering adulthood.
Learning chemistry can be frustrating. You can’t just read the text and immediately solve any problem. It takes practice to learn how to solve problems which means trying and failing, again and again, before the concept clicks in your mind. You don’t learn as much when you read, or when you hear a lecture, as in wrestling with, and working through the problems; in exercising your mental faculties and having your understanding tested.
In preparing for chemistry, students need to know what’s ahead so that when it starts to get difficult, they won’t be surprised. In fact, it’s important for them to know that they will have to attempt problems multiple times, and they may have to re-read the text, talk to a classmate or me, and really spend time thinking about the concepts before they’ll make progress. It is in the struggle where learning takes place. So when facing difficulty, chemistry students need not be discouraged, but can recognize it as a necessary part of the learning process.
I wish someone had told me this growing up. Maybe they did, and I just didn’t understand. I remember the day when, as a child, I realized that life was not mostly play interspersed with a bit of chores, but the other way around. Likewise, if we could approach life expecting adversity, recognizing it for what it is, we could replace discouragement with a drive to persevere. I honestly think anyone can learn chemistry, given enough perseverance. Cannot we then overcome any challenge in life if we press on?
Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.
-The Apostle Paul, Philippians 3:13-15
In other news, I just started on a new drug today:
Journal Entry Day 1 – Tried the new meds today. No progress so far. Splitting headache, not sure if there’s a connection. Chocolate supplies: ok for the moment. Morale: so-so, may need a session with the kitty.