To Learn Or To Understand

The primary aim of the book is not to rely just on factual information, but to impart an understanding of natural product structures and the way they are put together by living organisms. Rationalization based on mechanistic reasoning is paramount. The sequences themselves are not important; the mechanistic explanations for the processes used are the essence. Students should concentrate on understanding the broad features of the sequences, and absorb sufficient information to be able to predict how and why intermediates might be elaborated and transformed. The mechanistic explanations appended to the schemes should reinforce this approach. Anyone who commits to memory a sequence of reactions for examination purposes has missed the point. Of course, passing exams is probably the main reason why students are prompted to read this book, and the retention of some factual information will be essential. There is no alternative to memory for some of the material covered in the monographs, but wherever possible, information should be reduced to a concept that can be deduced, rather than remembered. The approach used here should help students to develop such deductive skills.

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