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Can talent only get you so far or is my brain just deteriorating?

  1. Feb 1, 2012 #1
    I remember in my earlier days of math classes all throughout school up until my latter years of high school, I did very well without even trying. I literally never studied for tests even once, and I only opened the textbook to rush through the homework in 10 minutes so I could play computer games all day and night after school. I still maintained a 100% average in the classes until pre-calc came along. My grades started dropping drastically as I kept up my lifestyle to about 75%, and when I barely passed pre-calc, I eventually came to fail my Calc class in my senior year of high school.

    I've read in articles that the brain functions optimally when we're at our youngest, and slowly begins to decay as the years go by...so I'm wondering how I could have possibly gotten by all those years without even trying and then all of the sudden become terrible at the subject. Is it just that the material became significantly more difficult, or maybe did something else happen that I'm not consciously aware of?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 1, 2012 #2

    D H

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    Unless you are abusing various recreation drugs or go into management (what's the diff?), you have twenty years or so before your mind starts going downhill. The downhill slide is gradual; even after age 40 people can and do make significant contributions to math and science.

    I'm sure there are some people out there who find even differential geometry easy. Except for those very few, everyone hits some point at which the every increasing complexity and abstractness makes mathematics stop being intuitive. They suddenly have to hit the books, pay attention in lecture, and ask for help. Eventually you might find calculus to be intuitive. Then you'll hit the next plateau. And the next. At each step you'll have to struggle a bit before the material becomes understandable.
  4. Feb 1, 2012 #3
    HAHAHA!!!! :rofl:

    That's awesome!
  5. Feb 1, 2012 #4


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    You have to remember that most math up to about the 10th grade is aimed at the general population. Its taught so you can solve very basic, general, and often intuitive problems.

    Once you start getting into calculus and some of the more abstract subjects in university, you're not spoon-fed anymore. The complexity of the problems also increases. And the pool of people in your classes begins to narrow. Generally only the people who are reasonably good at math tend to pursue further studies in it. So your old high-school habits aren't going to fly anymore.

    The earlier you learn this, the better - if you intend on continuing into university.
  6. Feb 1, 2012 #5
    It's quite simple. Your math classes were too easy. You are now getting harder classes, this is a good thing. College and high school math are totally different.

    Personally, when I find a topic that is easy, I consider that a really bad sign since it means that I'm not being challenged enough.
  7. Feb 1, 2012 #6
  8. Feb 1, 2012 #7


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    you are joking right? surely someone in your environment has mentioned by now that hard work is useful in life. so this is just another pitiful attempt to out off the inevitable acceptance of that, right?
  9. Feb 1, 2012 #8
    You simply have to put in the time. I cruised through math up until Calculus II, and then I hit a brick wall and had to maintain something like 20 hours outside of lecture studying just to finish my homework and fully understand the topics and maintain an A. I think it really comes down to the time you're willing to put into it. Once you begin calculus, simply attending the class simply isn't enough. There's also much that can be said for practice. Sometimes it seems like the assigned problems are just the same with slightly different numbers, but then there are little tricks involved that you would not have known to try unless you actually did them. In those situations, it's simply not enough to know "the concept" (what's taught in the lecture), and much of it comes down to rote practice.
  10. Feb 1, 2012 #9
    It gets even harder. :-) :-) :-)

    One thing that will happen is that you'll reach a point where you are just treading water even if you put 100% of your energy into learning the material. One other issue is that the standards get higher. I consider myself totally lousy at math, partly because I'm surrounded by people that are much, much better than it than I am.

    I can learn the stuff if I put enough time, but there are people that can learn twice as much in half the time, and there are only 24 hours in a day, and it's all accounted for. One problem is that if you spend time on one topic you don't have time for another, and you have to make decisions as to what to study.
  11. Feb 4, 2012 #10
    education, enviroment, distraction all of these will make you be "less interested" in some courses.... education(not relevant content of the courses, poor education given from teachers, we are still educated like people where educated in the 60's), enviroment( depends how much the people and society around you are education oriented or educated), distraction( PC, TV, Smartphones..... you can't compare that to books, we all now the winner here) ... You want good students ? deliver relevant content, good interactive(pc, tv .... media) education and change the society to be education oriented, meaning knowledge before money.
  12. Feb 4, 2012 #11
    "surely someone in your environment has mentioned by now that hard work is useful in life." I think there is only hard work when you don't like what you'r doing, if you do something because you like it you have to be enthusiastic about it to achieve the same result as the one that dosen't like it and has to work hard. My suggestion, don't work hard just do what you love, life is a 0 sum game, you start with nothing you end up with nothing, if you do what you love the money and the satisfaction will come.

    I for one am working to be a polymathic person BScEng Engineering Physics MSc Interdisciplinary Science, Specialization: An integrated approach to natural science, Phd in Aerospace Engineering. I will try to be involve in education and philosophy to. So (Knowledge to work in Engineering, Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Space related fields, education, Philosophy)... Knowledge is bliss(atleast for me it is)

    Leonardo da Vinci was "self-taught" (he was first apprenticed to the artist Andrea di Cione...) but he was a painter, sculptor, architect, musician, scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist, writer. And now you see people struggling with one degree, and it takes to long to be specialized in one, if Leonardo da Vinci would go thro the current education sistem to learn everthing he learned in his life he would need atleast 69 years of school and that is just for masters degree, he wouldv been around 76 years old when he would finish the education, at the age 76 to start the actual work.
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2012
  13. Feb 4, 2012 #12
    Sometimes you don't. One part of science research is that it involves doing a *lot* of things that you'd rather not do. If I could get a program running without spending days debugging than it would be easier.

    Love is pain and agony. I know that I love my wife and kids because I'd go through hell for them.

    But you haven't gotten anything done yet, have you? You'll find that at some point, you just have to do stuff that you don't particularly like to get somewhere.
  14. Feb 4, 2012 #13
    Things that I don't like is because of the education, the way the information is delivered, if you have a bad teacher, and a non relevant content of the course you will hate it for sure(even just one of them can break you). You can learn to love anything from math to painting to politics....
  15. Feb 4, 2012 #14
    If only this were true! Unfortunately (or fortunately, after all it keeps things interesting) life generally is one giant trade-off. On one extreme if you do what you love but your family can't afford to eat the satisfaction will wear off very quickly. On the other hand if you chase the money at the expense of all else you lose your identity in the process. The problem is that once you go out to work, regardless of what that work is, there will always be something in your job that you won't like. Getting someone else to do it won't happen because chances are nobody else in your workplace likes doing it either.

    Back to OP:
    This is an easy one... the material just became significantly more difficult. Time to hit the books. (I'm in my mid 30s and have gone back to study and am doing far better than I was in my late teens, the idea that you are too old is quite amusing and I would suspect an attempt at an excuse to yourself).
  16. Feb 4, 2012 #15
    I work 180 hours for 240$ a month, last year I've worked 340-360 hours per month for three months for 500$/month. I know what it means to work to sustain a family. And these salaries are just slave money, compared to the salaries in the west. I for one never work in something that I don't like, only things that can ruin your day is bosses and colleagues(drama). Now I am at work I am doing 16 hours.
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