Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Understanding as "acceptance" rather than related on a deep level

I touched on this below but I wanted to revisit this idea. Often learning the crux of a subject is more about acceptance rather than true understanding. How can you really understand something if you are new? On the level of an introductory course I think this concept applies to other subjects: art, religion, English and even History (to some extent).

I like to think of my students (that may be you if you are my student) as doing practice problems and reading the material in the textbook so that they grasp enough of the details to accept what the experimental evidence tells us about the way chemical elements behave. None of it is intuitive and none of it is something I would expect anybody to figure out without explicit information from the text.

I hope everybody out there who is currently studying chemistry can grow in their acceptance of experimental data. It is only through this acceptance that you can understand more about how the experimental evidence may affect medicine, physics and the everyday way we live our lives.

I'm sure the founders of quantum mechanics had no idea that they had just unleashed the beginning of the information age. The internet and all the small gadgets we take for granted resulted from the acceptance and further creativity of those who observed quantum mechanics in nature.

It is my hope you will be enthusiastic to do the same. Let me be the proud teacher of the next United States inventor. Good luck.