Process, Or, My Strange Love Of Physics

I started to take Physics in the fall of ’07 as part of the gen-ed requirement for the school. I am not inherently a science/math person, I can do it, but its not what I am naturally good at. As the semester went on I found myself more and more fascinated by physics. The class is not a conceptual class really, we do a lot of math (mostly algebra not calculus, thank goodness), but still I felt compelled to commit time to actually learning what we were doing in class. It seems kind of silly of course because what else would students be doing in college if they weren’t learning (not that you’d really be surprised that some/most students aren’t).

This has carried on into the spring semester and as I reflected on this strange new love of science, I realized a part of it was the process. The way physics challenges me because it does not necessarily come to me naturally and the fact I have to spend time on it to really understand it. Even though not everything I am learning is applicable to what I will be doing in the future I know that there are connections being made and that science/math part of my brain that usually goes malnourished is getting some good attention.

Now, it might be because I am kool-aide drinking real school fiend that I’m starting to appreciate process (and dare I say using my brain heh). For me, the problem is explaining it to other students. I had a conversation with a friend a few months back and she was saying that a specific equation she learned in physics could not help her in her social science major (she also challenged me to directly connect it). I argued it is not always about making those direct connections. The problem with process is that is often an invisible process that is going on in the brain, making it hard to measure. It is not about knowing F=MA, but being challenged in class to remember back and say, well this is how I can also get to F.
Pushing the brain to make connections.
The brain is that much richer for having being pushed in a different direction. By taking the time to learn these things as you go along as a process, your brain is getting better at making connections. Cramming for the test the night before does not train your brain for much good at all.

I see I have rambled a bit from where I started. Not that ever really have a specific point to make to begin with, but I hope what I have said makes some sort of logical sense.

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2 Responses to “Process, Or, My Strange Love Of Physics”


  1. 1 Gardner February 19, 2008 at 7:00 am

    Wonderful to see you reflecting on school again. Love the 100-word posts, but it’s such a treat when you write about learning….

    You’ve articulated something very important quite beautifully here. Making connections is not just about one-to-one correspondences. It’s about making all sorts of approaches to reality and thought available to the mind for metaphor, for rumination, for play. Specific knowledge is important, but having a lumber-room of the mind that can be made into lots of different things is even more important, I’d say.

    Just a couple of days ago I discovered that Oliver Sacks read and was fascinated by an Arthur C. Clarke novel called “Childhood’s End.” He had that book in his head when he came to write the introduction to his latest book, “Musicophilia.” It was there, just waiting to be used. The important part is to train one’s mind to be interested in things. There’s an art to stretching and strengthening one’s range of interests.

  2. 2 Mary-Kathryn February 19, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    I also have this sneaky feeling you would be amazing in a Creative Writing Class :o)


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