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You've hit a wall, hard and you're miserable

  1. Sep 7, 2011 #1
    What do you do when that happens? You're fully motivated to study what you have to, then it turns out that you just can't seem to grasp certain concepts. Either it's because you're tired. Or you simply can't *see* it right and you just don't get what's going on and it makes you miserable. What do you do?

    I slept it off on Monday, went to class, got my teacher to explain magnetism to me and things worked out. Yesterday, I didn't do jack about it and just sat alone, thinking about stuff.

    Yeah, I could keep on trying, experimenting until I figure something out but chances are, someone else has and I don't want to go banging my head on the wall to re-invent the wheel. (not that that would work!)

    What is it that works for you? Maybe it might for me. If it doesn't, then at least I've tried something from another perspective.

  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 7, 2011 #2
    Is it magnetism that's giving you trouble? Have you tried the Khan academy stuff on it?
  4. Sep 7, 2011 #3
    Normally that becomes a prime time for me to go bike 26 miles on the spinning machine. Sometimes it's also because, like you earlier this week, I'm just too tired, so I take a nap. Sometimes I go outside and sit on my lawn chair and just think about stuff.

    If I have other work that I can do, I might try to do that. Typically my research involves lots of programming, so sometimes I'll work on that if it's different enough from waht I've been trying to do. Programming seems to require a different type of thought that's just purely logical, unlike physics sometimes which may require tricks.

    Just try and find something different to do. Physical stuff is the best I think, because I know sometimes I feel restless when I can't get through a topic, concept or problem. Sometimes making yourself a little tired from some physical activity can help you focus better. Also, exercising regularly helps me focus better overall anyway.
  5. Sep 8, 2011 #4


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    On things I just can't seem to grasp within a reasonable amount of time, I seek out people who've either learned the material already (TA's, tutors, etc.), or classmates who are serious about learning the material.
  6. Sep 8, 2011 #5
    Some parts of it. The problem is I'm still in high school and what happens is, results are just thrown into my face without much explanation. Now, I could be reading the proofs and trying to understand the mathematics of things but I can't afford to do that right now. I have finals from mid Oct to mid Nov and I really should be concentrating on finishing up what's required of me if I want the grades. If I had it my way, I really wouldn't bother and would concentrate on learning the material properly and get into it as much as I'd want but it turns out that i need a piece of paper saying I aced the class...

    Yeah, good ol' Sal is gonna be helpful!

    Thanks man. I just got back from cycling a bit - does wonders.

    Sometimes that works. Especially with Maths - I have this friend I can work with pretty well. But give us anything that requires learning some actual concepts and we'll end up doing nothing at all and bugger off to do something else.
  7. Sep 8, 2011 #6
    My guess is that you just need to find how you learn best. For me I am a visual and hands-on learner. If I haven't seen something before, going to the lecture is worthless to me. I need to have read through it, tried it and visualized it before hearing someone talk about it. I need to actually write out the examples before I understand them. I did not figure that out until my last year in undergrad. It made those first few years much harder.

    You are just in high school. Concentrate on getting all your basics down. Learn math the best you can, try and learn your physics 'concepts' the best you can. But you are going to see all the physics stuff, in much more depth, again if you decide to go that route in university.

    And everyone hits a wall in studying or working. One thing I learned in grad school was to walk away. Go read a novel for 30 minutes, watch TV, listen to music, have a run, kick the ball around with a friend, go grab a coffee. Just do anything but study for a while. Then come back to it. Things that were not obvious before, suddenly are.
  8. Sep 8, 2011 #7
    Well, at least you figured it out! I'm not certain what works best so far for me. For years, I went by what some person I knew told me they did which was reading through their notes, making sure they "got it", then copying them down (condensed form) to make sure they remember it. For a long time, it was almost impossible for me to study without doing that. Then, I thankfully ditched that awful method (couldn't be bothered and felt like looking something more "me") and just decided to read through my book then work through some example questions. This works best for me.

    Interestingly, I have to "visualise" things too. As I read or as I am being explained something, images sort of automatically form in my head and they start moving until everything fits together.
    I do A-Levels which is, for the most part, the equivalent of the first year of college education and I'm a little "worried" about physics (what if I enrol into the program and I end up hating it? I waste a year of my life and end up having re-apply the next year). I still find it interesting but I find some of the stuff a little abstract sometimes but I think it might be because they aren't very well explained. I don't get that with math because a lot of what we do is rigorous enough, although there are no proofs in our syllabus and I'm left wondering why finding the normal to a plane is equal to the determinant.

    My problem is I get a little obsessed at times and I absolutely have to get it done and when I can't, it annoys me to no end. I should work on my temper, I guess! :rofl:
    Then, when that happens, I end up wasting a day away.

    I've laid out a realistic plan of how I will study the physics topics that I have left.
    Day 1 = Moments, circular motion
    Days 2 and 3 = Thermal Physics (ideal gases as well)

    And so forth...
  9. Sep 9, 2011 #8
    "My problem is I get a little obsessed at times and I absolutely have to get it done and when I can't, it annoys me to no end. I should work on my temper, I guess!
    Then, when that happens, I end up wasting a day away."

    You will find in life that this sort of temporary impasse occurs time and time again. Best thing to do is leave it alone for another day and do not let yourself get frustrated. It is more difficult when you are young. As I went through engineering school, due to lack of time for full understanding some things had to be skirted by only hitting the high spots and hoping to get by. Some things were only understood years later, possibly due to maturity. Thermodynamics is a good example of a subject few understand the first time around.

    Once you finish up school and begin real work (if you are in a technical field), the problems become more difficult. They have no precise answers like those you find in textbooks. They are nonlinear and boundary conditions are not too often well defined. The engineering and physics principles are there but applying them appropriately is the problem.

    Age will help your situation. As a youth I would tend to throw things.....
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