The problem of being a novice
John is struggling with the problem that his old methods of approaching assignments are inadequate for the kind he gets in high school, and that there are ways – new to him – of doing things which are more efficient in dealing with the larger volume of information and greater complexity of analysis required of him now. His habit is to use the old methods and blame everyone else when they don’t work, while feeling worse and worse about himself. To some extent this is because he has identified being “smart” with not needing to have any help, or learn to use any new tools.
The awkwardness of learning a new way of doing something is threatening to him, and he cannot suppress the feeling of irritation and panic long enough to learn that he can do it. For an example, think about when you learned to drive a standard shift car, and hopped all over the parking lot feeling the jerk and stall, the ineptitude where you were used to control and smoothness. It takes a sense of humor to get through that, and you have to maintain that humor while everything you are going through tugs you toward frustration and anger.
You were glad when it was time to take a break, and get back to your regular life, in which things went better, as a rule. Now imagine hitting that kind of emotional speed bump many times a day! What kind of attitude might you develop?