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Do you feel that being lost in mathematics is the natural
state of things?

Being lost in mathematics just means that you are not ready
for that piece of mathematics. You have to build a bridge
from the mathematics you do understand to the new
mathematics. The main trouble with being lost is that all
subsequent mathematics you encounter (e.g., in subsequent
lectures or chapters of a book) is likely also to be lost on
you. Before going on you must understand what's happening
now. Practically speaking this means that when taking a
course you must make sure not to fall behind, even it that
takes some effort right now. If you do fall behind your
time and money is likely to be wasted.

If you do find yourself irretrievably lost in a class you
need to take major action. Talk to your teacher and ask for
advice. It might be best to withdraw from the class and
take it over again, or even take a more basic class first.
This will be more effective and more efficient in the long
run.

It's sometimes hard to understand new mathematics (and even
harder to invent new mathematics). This applies to
everybody regardless of experience. But as you gain
experience the difficulties diminish and you can take bigger
steps. So you get more efficient, and a task that looks so
formidable at first shrinks to being manageable. So being
lost in mathematics is not the natural state of things and
prolonged exposure to that state can be avoided!

Here's a famous quote by
Albert Einstein

** Do not worry about your difficulties in mathematics. I
can assure you that mine are still greater.**

Fine print, your comments, more links, Peter Alfeld,
PA1UM

[16-Aug-1996]