It’s interesting how I often hear other students say something along the lines of, “I can’t wait until we are done this course, because I can then forget about X.” I’ll also admit that I’ve been prone to saying these sorts of things as well. However, it’s interesting to me because it shows us how we place our knowledge into silos. It reminds me of something my mathematics professor said after one of our tests, “Yes, I put a physics question on the test. You’re all grown up now, so we don’t have to keep our meat and potatoes separate.”
Too often we see our classes as representing knowledge that is valuable in only that class. This starts early, with class names such as “Science”, “Mathematics”, and “Languages”. Of course, the truth is that these are only artificial constructions, and this soon becomes obvious for science students when they see the amount of mathematics that are used in their field. These subjects aren’t separate, yet we treat certain concepts we have trouble with as something we can “get past”, when the reality is that they will always be there, following us. You don’t graduate away from statistics when you’re in science, nor do you get away with not understanding calculus well if you’re in mathematics (generally).
This becomes quite evident as one moves past secondary school, but I wish there was more of an effort to show this interconnectedness of all subjects much sooner. It is definitely useful to show these distinctions between subjects, but just because it is useful does not mean these distinctions actually exist.
This is why I try to commit myself to learning things properly, not just learning them for the test and then never thinking about them again. There are some rare courses in which you can do this, but they are few and far between. Much better, in my opinion, to do the hard work of understanding something you’re struggling with. The best part is that it generally won’t be for waste, since