I am currently writing a masters thesis (in mathematics). I began a month ago, but I have been stuck to the point of feeling like I'm wasting my time. I don't have good grasp of the fundamentals needed for the problem I'm tackling and worst thing is they aren't even written anywhere because it's somewhat obscure. And all information I find that looks germane, seems to assume a lot of knowledge I don't have. My advisor helps a lot but we only see each other for two hours once a week and it being online it's a lot more difficult to communicate and ask and interrupt than usual. Additionally, with everybody stuck at home it's also not easy to get help from peers, as setting up a call is much harder than running into somebody on the hall and having to email and email back is a lot more work than just oral interaction so people are less up for it.
On the other hand, my institution allows one to replace a master's thesis with an additional advanced class. Actually this is what most students do, because generally it's thought that an advanced course is time better spent unless you have a clear path towards solving a problem in an area you're comfortable in (I don't know why for a moment I thought it would be a good idea to go against the grain on this one, during a pandemic at that). I'm finding this option attractive because following a class that has a guiding book would be a lot easier in the basically self-learning environment we currently inhabit than scrambling for readable material that doesn't really exist, and also because I think I could get a recommendation letter from the professor from that course while my current thesis advisor has already taught me a couple of classes I think he already would be able and willing to right me a recommendation letter.
Unfortunately, I'm not sure how badly my advisor would take if I suggest this. I'm not sure if he will intetpret it as me "giving up at the first sight of trouble" (which I don't think I am, I truly have worked my a** off for a month and have felt basically no advances in my understanding of this because I think I'm missing some fundamental prerequisites).. . I'm not sure if this would weaken the rec letter that he would write for me.
But I do feel like for my growth as a mathematician, and perhaps to avoid needles s frustration and burnout, the present circumstances make the class a better use of my time. (And also, I really need 1 more rec letter from somebody else).
What do you think I should do? Do you think my advisor would understand this position? Do you think I am in fact being weak? Or do you think my points towards taking the class instead do make sense, as I feel they do?