BACK TO THE BASICS – The Secret of Cracking Complex Concepts

BACK TO THE BASICS – The Secret of Cracking Complex Concepts

One topic in Chemistry that gave me a tough time in Secondary school was Stoichiometry. I was in SS2 when the late Mr Oguche Snr of the blessed memory, introduced the topic. It looks like an illusion to me. He tried all he could to explain it, but no way. I couldn’t just crack it.

Then, one day, I came across an integrated science textbook writing by Peter Achimugwu. In my curiosity, I decided to read it and guess what! It broke down the atom, molecule, and ion concept to the simplest level using things I could relate to as illustrations.

That was all I needed for a breakthrough in Stoichiometry – a basic understanding of the concept of atoms. It was the beginning of my turning point in Chemistry.

You see, sometimes, all you need to crack complex concepts as an entrepreneur or a professional is to go back to the basics.

More often than not, things are not as difficult as they look if only we can understand them in their simplest form. Everything, no matter how complex, is made of the simplest form. Your journey will be easier if you can grasp those tiny pieces that make up the complex body.

We struggle with complex things because we feel some lessons are too basic for us to learn. Imagine somebody in SS2 going back to read junior secondary school textbooks. It’s counterintuitive, right? Yet, that was what I needed to excel even in SS2.

In your quest to crack that complex in business, academics, marriage, career, and even spirituality, pause, and ask, what is the most basic form of this complex concept? Go for it and you will see your breakthrough just the way I saw mine in Chemistry.

The better and faster way to learn anything

The better and faster way to learn anything

Do you want to master the art of learning faster? Or Are you a student at any level desiring academic excellence? Then gather here; this is for you.

What can a primary school pupil teach? I think I can answer that question because I started teaching right from primary school.

I grew up in the house of teachers – my both parents are teachers. So before I began schooling, I had started going to school; and at that tender age, I can recall watching my mum teach students.

As part of the regular child’s play, I remember gathering my younger ones in a classroom setting and teaching them simple things like how to say ABC and count 123… correctly, while every other kid was busy playing with sand.

Fast forward to secondary school, my passion for teaching continued. This time, I started teaching the primary school pupils in my neighbourhood basic arithmetic and dictation.

Then I moved to a boarding school outside my hometown, where I started taking the junior students, and sometimes my classmates, tutorials as well.

I had to read to know more so that I will not be disgraced. That was how I cultivated the habit of reading outside my teachers’ lesson notebooks. It was so serious that while I was in SS1, I had already finished the syllabus and had delved into the next class’ curriculum.

Looking back at my life as a student, I learned a few things from these experiences:

1. There’s always something you can teach. In my previous post, I emphasized that knowledge is progressive, which means there’s always someone who has a lesser understanding than you do, and that’s an opportunity to teach.

We usually fall into the temptation of thinking that everybody already knows what we know. But It will surprise you to realize that there are millions of people who do not have the knowledge you have. So, there’s always something you can teach somebody.

2. The more you teach, the more you know you don’t know enough: In my adventure in teaching, I always realize later on how much more I need to know about a concept. That’s why professors seem to keep searching for more. As long as they keep teaching, they keep on bridging the gap in their knowledge. That’s because the more you teach, the less you will think you know.

3. You cannot really claim you know it until you teach it: There are things we think we know until you get the class to teach it. Then your bubble will be busted. There’s this spirit in class that opens your mind to a great depth that you cannot access while just keeping the knowledge to yourself. As you teach, the concept becomes clearer, simpler.

4. The more you teach, the more you know.
The final part of the lesson I learned is that my comprehension of a concept improves while teaching it. I really cannot explain the science behind it, even when I really wish I could. But I discovered that it is tough to forget whatever I taught somebody.

Apart from that, if you are a teacher, you wouldn’t want to mess up in the presence of the students; thus, it’s up to you to make sure that your level of knowledge is up-to-date.

If you are looking for a motivation to study more, then start teaching more. This explains why students who take tutorials always perform well, ceteris paribus.

So what should you do?
1. Never think there’s nothing you can teach.
2. Do not allow what you don’t know to prevent you from teaching what you know.
3. There’s always somebody who is dying to know what you already know, so teach it.
4. You don’t teach because you know more, but you teach to understand more.


The “Progressiveness” of Knowledge

The “Progressiveness” of Knowledge

In primary school, we were taught that two minus three (2-3) was equal to “cannot.” I mean, it was impossible to subtract three from two, probably because we used sticks to count and an attempt to explain it would get us more confused.

As we moved from primary to junior secondary school, we found out that the answer was minus one (-1). I could remember finding that really difficult to understand in JSS 2. However, with time, I got used to it and not only master the concept but also used it to solve some basic algebra.

In junior secondary school, we were told that the square root of negative integer was impossible. But in senior secondary school, surd was introduced. Thus one could solve problems involving negative integer until one got the lowest imperfect number. So when we solved a problem involving surds and got to the point of (-1), that was the end of the solution.

In senior secondary school’s further mathematics and early years in the university, the concept of complex number was introduced. And suddenly, the square root of -1 became possible.

Now, why all these stories? It is to demonstrate the importance of a concept – “Knowledge is progressive.”

Let’s assume Paul, Peter, and Pius are in university, secondary and primary levels of education, respectively.

It would be wrong for Paul to shut Peter up for saying that the square root of -1 is not possible. Similarly, it wouldn’t be okay for Peter to laugh at and look down on Puis for saying that it’s not possible to solve 2 minus 3 (2 -3).

They are all talking from their levels of knowledge, and three of them have to pass through all these phases.

For our brothers and sisters in “high places” of knowledge, when next you hear somebody “blowing” blunder, please remember that he or she is talking from his or her level of knowledge. Don’t be too quick to forget that you were there once upon a time. So instead of shutting him or her up or looking down on him or her, just sincerely correct or, at best, walk away in peace.

And for us at the lower cadre, let’s not shut up because of those ahead of us or allow them to shut us up. We should also not forget to be humble to learn and grow to the next level of knowledge.

The largest room in the world of knowledge is the room for improvement. Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. 1 Corinthians 8:2