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What I Don’t Understand, Plus an Einstein Quote

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I can’t sleep. I tried to study, but I can’t concentrate. I’m can’t even really keep my brain on this note right now, so I’ll keep it short and try again to study and/or sleep.

Albert Einstein once said, “Never memorize something that you can look up.” I’ll be the first to say that Einstein was a whole ton smarter than I am, and who am I to argue with the genius?

When I was in eighth grade, my history teacher told us that this was her motto and she’d focus more on teaching us concepts than forcing us to memorize dates. That was the only history class I ever even semi-enjoyed. I’ve long held that there must be a better way of determining someone’s knowledge than giving a few all-important tests, of which you’re basically screwed if you fail even one.

Oh, organic chemistry. I hate you. You hate me. I accept this. But why force the class to memorize 600 pages of material before the test? Isn’t it more important that we know how and why the reactions work as opposed to all the tiny details about each one? Look ’em up! Use the Einstein method and keep your books close at hand. With things like math, o-chem, and music theory, you will eventually just know what happens when and where once you’ve employed certain ideas over and over and over again in a practical way. At first you have to think to realize that C to F# is a tritone but after you’ve dealt with that enough, you just realize it without thinking, Minor second: C#. Major second: D. Minor third: D# …

So since we are in school, learning and in the infancy of our knowledge, why make us spout details we will never need to know again? I forget whether it was Josey or Kari that I was talking to, but she said, “There are probably only one or two people in that o-chem class that will ever need to know this stuff again outside of school.” Those people will have the material memorized over time, and good for them. But the way that these classes are set up now tests not my skill in chemistry ( as well as math and physics) but how good I am at memorizing formulae that can very easily be found in books.
I’m not bad at chemistry. The material makes sense to me. I’m just bad at memorizing.

I’m actually kind of good at chemistry. You’d never know it by looking at my grade.

14 December 2008, 1:15 a.m. CST


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