The 2015 Challenge – Entry 6: The Slower, The Better

Joy of Learning

Last week I encountered a problem about bi-polar transistors (BJTs) while reading a book,  Art of Electronics. For people not familiar with electronics, circuits made by transistors are the building blocks for the majority of electronic systems. I was frustrated because the problem was supposed to be simple. Usually when I could not think through a problem, I just move on, believing that somehow I will be able to solve it later.

I am always wrong. I would never solve the problem, and it means I never truly understand the concepts, BJT in this case. If you don’t fully understand an issue, you tend to forget it. That’s the hard truth about study. You need to put in the effort; you need to endure the difficulty; you must deal with frustration until you understand whatever you’re trying to read or to solve. It is too easy to make my mistake — afraid of spending more effort. To be fair, time was an issue as well. During college, I was forced to take 16-18 credits every semester. My bad time management did not allow me to read more slowly and solve more problems.

Back to the BJT problem, I knew I could move on as usual, pretending I could solve it. But I remembered about my past, and I realized that no one was punching a clock. I also did not do this to earn a grade. I did not need to submit anything to anyone. I had time. Then I decided to read the page again, word by word. I determined to understand each word and each statement made by the authors. It sounded painful, but actually it was not that bad. After roughly 40 minutes, I found myself understanding the issue almost completely. I finally conquered it, and that might the first time I did it without external pressures, grade for example.

I was overjoyed. For the remains of the week, I approached any reading the same way. I was amazed at my quick understanding. This development seemed ironic at first; I spent more time reading, yet it was a faster way to master the concepts. The truth is, if I spend less time, I would never get it. More importantly, without a solid understanding of the fundamentals, it is impossible to enjoy learning the more advanced topics. You will get lost in no time and blame your intelligence instead. I did.

Two Takeaways 

1. To enjoy learning a difficult subject, such as analog integrated circuits design, I have to understand the materials, in depth.

2. To accomplish the above requirement, I need a hell lot of time. Time is precious. I cannot afford to waste time. I’m thankful that the 2015 Challenge have helped me get back on track.

(Photo source)

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Author: Tri M. Cao

Music with my beloved HD 650 headphones.

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