When I first took college Physics I barely passed the thing with a ‘C’. To be honest, I think that I had a ‘D’ but my ‘A’ in the lab brought the grade up to a ‘C’. The lecture always made sense to me IN class (but not on the tests), yet I had the best Physics teacher in the University. The guy was a legend, and I LOVED his jokes. So why could I study for his class and barely pull a ‘C’…and why was I making an ‘A’ in his lab?!?
I had a rude awakening during that semester of college and it was the fact that there are some things in a class that you must memorize and other things that you must understand. But let me take it a little bit further.
The things that I had to memorize had to be memorized and then placed into an area of my brain to recall later for further development of future material. In other words, if I memorized it today, I had to keep that info handy to recall it in order to build upon a new concept next week. Let me give an example: Let’s say that I memorize the fact that mitochondria make energy for human cells and that ribosomes help cells to create proteins. Anyone can memorize that. I learned that in Chapter 3. Now, we are in Chapter 19 and the teacher tells me that Red Blood Cells do not have mitochondria or ribosomes. I can memorize that too. This is where a basic science stops and more intense science starts. It’s also where your memorizing must now shift to understanding. I must now take what I learned in Chapter 3 and 19 and “think about what does this mean?” This is what understanding is: when you can ask the question “what does this mean” and apply a solution. This means that Red Blood Cells cannot make proteins or large quantities of cellular energy so their lifespan is relatively short and they should not be able to repair themselves like other cells.
I have a RPG for my Playstation 2 that I really like but I never play it because it simply requires too much understanding. It requires me to think long and hard about my every action, and each characteristic of the game. Everything that you do at any given point of the game will determine your experience in the game. Fortunately, it is simply a choice as to whether or not I want to play it. But passing Physics was not merely a choice–it was mandatory. So I had to figure out that the equations were things to be memorized, but the concepts of how they could be used to measure how matter and energy and motion and force interact had to be understood to the point that I could understand the basics of accelaration and gravity and resistance. In any science class, you need to figure out what facts are just facts to be memorized–but expect to use those facts to uderstand concepts later.
Man, this year is finally over. Not like I really wanted it to be all of the time, but every other month I had something that popped into my life that left me speechless. And everyone who knows me knows that I am never speechless. This year wasn’t bad for me, just exhausting. Although some tragic things did occur in my life this year, I was prepared to handle them. I had the right tools and back-up plans in place for such emergencies. As a matter of fact, the people involved in someof these situations would often say, “Wow, you are so lucky. If you had not thought to have done this 3 years ago, then you would have been so screwed right now” or “I cannot believe how peaceful you are at a time like this. I would be so pulling my hair out right now”. Yeah, well, sometimes I wanted to. But I had to remain focused to make it through my storms and valleys, trials and tribulations.
When I was about to graduate with my Bachelors degree, I was invited to several parties. Everytime I went to one, I found myself doing the exact same thing: zoning out. I would just sit there, listening to music, deep in thought. What was I thinking about? The future. I had become so focussed on achieving my objective, that my mind was still in that mode. It was all that I could think about. For 3 days, the world stood still. I finished some things requied graduate school the next year, I packed many of my belongings into storage, I serviced my car, I made a few finacial transactions and visited several professors. No matter what I did or where I went, everything seemed to go in slow motion. It was as if I had defeated Time, and it was honoring me with a gift–a moment to reflect upon the journey and prepare for the future quest. I suppose that is what I am doing right now. I never want to get so caught up in the rat-race of our culture that I lose focus and fail to analyze the game that I have just played and the game that is to be played.
If I analyze the game that I just played then I will have to become honest with myself about what is actually inside of myself. It forces me to acknowledge my character flaws and ask myself if my previous weaknesses will cause me to lose the next game. And if so, then what am I going to do about them? When I did this for myself in those 3 days, I found some kinks in my offense and defense that I could not allow into the playoffs. I squeaked some wins out in the regular season with those kinks, but the playoffs would not be so forgiving. So I worked hard over the summer to get some f those things in check. I take this tone every year around this time. It is a time for me to analyze the previous year, but to make the next year even more productive. Besides, I want to enjoy the party next time…