Engineering is not just a course but a way of life

Why you cannot really understand science and technology books?

Often in Maths and Physics textbooks the authors omit crucial steps and leave you lost. In addition, understanding technical books usually requires a broad knowledge of the sciences and mathematics involved. If you have no experience, it will be like trying to read a book in a foreign language. 

If you are trying to be a self-learner, you may use a textbook as a guide to the topics to study in what order and to get started on each topic, but when you feel confused, go online and Google any topic you are confused about. You will probably find several sites with different explanations on the same topic. Examine them until you find one that makes sense to you. YouTube can also be very useful here.


I have read my share of science and technology textbooks at post-graduate level and I realized that there are mainly two types of understanding in these areas:

- A conceptual understanding of the topics without getting to the core of the problems. You will probably be able to convince people that you know these topics, because you are able to explain them so that most people understand. Many managers, consultants and even teachers are stuck at this level.

- A deep understanding of the topics, that comes from solving problem after problem and reflecting on them. You will have a complete understanding of the topics gained from working through exercises and will be able to apply what you have learned to solve similar problems. To make sure you are understanding properly, at least at the beginning, it is a good idea to check your ideas with someone who has more experience and knowledge in the subject.

Reading a technical book to gain a deeper understanding is not a fast or easy approach but it is worth in the long run.

1 comment:

  1. In the end, applying your knowledge to real things is much more difficult. Teaching and examples all deal with abstractions. Make the abstraction in the first place is the hard bit and if you get that wrong you can make the problem harder, or even solve completely the wrong problem. Explaining that to people, even at level 2 is a challenge, especially if they have been working at that level for 20years and never been questioned.

    ReplyDelete