Wednesday, June 08, 2005

They say a lesson is repeated until it is learnt. I always assumed they meant lessons in life...vague philosophical stuff. I guess I never knew they never meant physical chemistry.

Physical chemistry? Why would an electrical engineer working as a software engineer want anything to do with it? Neither my under graduate education or my profession require intimate knowledge of the subject. Why then am I up at 4:30 in the morning trying to find the number of atoms in 4.5 grams of helium?

Answer: Mom.

My mother is a biology teacher. 17 years of it has made her a "Hardcore" biology teacher. No question in biology will ever faze her.

Now due a mild staff shortage, she's been asked to handle the first unit of
chemistry for the 9'th standard. I came home yesterday, mind numb from staring at the comp for 10 hours straight and found her in tears because she didnt understand what that bastard author of the chem textbook was saying. How was she supposed to teach something she didnt understand? The students would soon realise she didnt know what she was talking about. How could she face the class?

"You cant even help me!" she sobbed " I know how wonderfully you studied chemistry in the 9'th standard."

Aargh. The demons from the past have raised their ugly heads again. I thought chemistry was done with. I suffered with it from the 9th to the 12'th and caused plenty of heartache to my poor chemistry teachers. One of them even wanted my mother to have my thyroid levels checked.

But I couldn't let my mom walk into her class tommorow and falter when a student asked her a question. I would have to fight my revulsion for the subject,read it, understand it and somehow explain it to her.

So I sat down at the table and picked up the book. 5 minutes later I understood why I didn't understand chemistry in the 9'th standard. The textbook was crap.

There was no kind of logical flow. I didnt progress from page to page. I had to keep going back and forth between chapters before I could even make sense of what he was saying.

And consider this. He explains a concept for about a couple of lines and then immediately there's a problem to be solved. I work it out on a bit of paper and look at the answer. Its wrong.


I look at what I've done. Its perfect. Just a matter of ratios. Why then is the textbook sniggering at me?

I look at the textbook again. Aah. Printing mistake.

I understood now why my mother was so distraught. You think you've understood something and then the text book tells you you are wrong.If its your first time with that dreaded book, you dont know what to believe in. The book or yourself ?

So now I've explained the first chapter to my mom. She can handle the theory. We have to sit with the problems over the weekend so that everything goes well on monday.

If this continues, I'll soon have to teach my my mom organic chemistry and calculus.Two subjects which made the last two years of my life in school miserable.God help me.


Anonymous said...

I could help, guess who i am.

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday machaan

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday da!!

Siddhu said...

Happy birthday, Dinesh. :)

Harish said...

Belated wishes, Dinesh :)

and all the best w/ the chemistry book!

Sharad said...

Belated Happy Birthday !

Kroopa Shah (Kr00pz) said...