Posted by: CJ | February 14, 2011

Some reason…

For some reason, I do comparatively poorly in courses where the homework problems boil down to, “You probably couldn’t think of this yourself based on what was presented in class, so use resources A and B that the professor made up, didn’t really mention, and can’t easily be explained.” I inevitably try solving the problem completely myself, wind up frustrated and stuck, talk to other people and discover their solution boils down to, “Oh, yeah, that was way too hard. I just used result A in the prof’s notes or cut and pasted code B from the prof’s code.” Doing that almost never occurs to me. I’m not sure why, but it’s making one of my courses quite frustrating. I don’t like just copying from what a prof’s done without understanding what’s going on.

I think that lies at the heart of a lot of the classes where I’ve struggled the most. I wasn’t expected to know everything that was going on, just how to use tools A, B, and C the prof provided. And it was expected that my first instinct would be, “let’s see what the prof already has that I can steal and repurpose.” That’s really not my first instinct. My first instinct is, “well, if I understand this I should be able to build it from scratch. And if I can’t then I probably don’t understand it well enough.”

The downside of that attitude, of course, is it leads to more frustration, less productivity, and means I miss quite a few tricks the profs intended for us to learn without explicitly saying that’s what he/she was driving at with a particular question or assignment. I vaguely wish I could change my default search patterns…


  1. ummmm….that may be a symptom of poor parenting. I do awful in situations like that, and rarely set up situations that way. You’ve explained my problem with learning much of math, in fact.

  2. Yeah, but it’s not true for all math and science classes. There are plenty I’ve taken where I was fine. In a number of cases where I had courses like this and floundered, the real problem was the course assumed more background than I had or could reasonably make up. That was the case in most of these courses. But I’m not sure that’s the case this time…which is why I’m wondering if there is something else going on.

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