So, you’ve decided to take Honors Physics. I’m so excited for you! You probably already know that it’s going to be challenging, and you might be a little nervous since you don’t know what to expect yet. What should you know before you get there?
You should know that you learn by making mistakes. You get better by practicing what you can’t do, not by rehashing what you can do. Your brain actually changes as you think hard and work through a problem (especially when you are correcting an error). Be ready to make, then fix, a lot of mistakes. Everyone else is making them, too, even if they aren’t telling you about it.
You should know that you can’t coast your way to an excellent physics understanding. If you’re taking Honors Physics, you might be the kid in your math class who never has to try very hard. You might not have ever seen a math problem where you couldn’t see every step in your head before starting. This class is going to be different. You’ll probably have times when you think it is too hard for you or that you aren’t smart enough to do it. “Smart enough” is irrelevant. Better is “patient enough.” When you ask for help, ask for better strategies for practicing. Practice makes better, eventually.
You should know that you’re going to work hard, it’s not always going to be fun, and you’re going to be more proud of what you did in this class than you can imagine right now. You’re going to learn A LOT. In fact, you’re going to change the way you understand the world in very significant and measurable ways. The beautiful things around you will come into better focus and become even more beautiful.
Sure, it can’t hurt to know how to use a protractor, understand sine and cosine, and be able to manipulate an algebraic equation. Those are small, though. The big idea is to know that your brain is growing and changing as you practice difficult things. You are an amazing and capable machine. Success is not easy, but it is possible. And succeeding at something so difficult, learning so much, is a wonderful and legal high. So go: get confused, fail a little (or a lot), get frustrated, and fight your way to some well-earned myelin wrapping your neurons giving you fabulous physics mastery.
Meta Note: This post is in response to a request. Okay, not a request per se, but the title was a search term that led someone to this blog. I’m choosing to view those searches as requests. I will keep selecting some of the best “suggestions” and work them into prose here.