What I've learned as a Math Tutor
During my twenty year teaching career, I've done a lot of work as a math tutor, and I have learned two things:
- All of my students have been highly capable of doing the work their teacher required.
- Most were suffering from Math Anxiety.
About a week ago, I was working with a very bright and imaginative sixth grader, who suffers from low-grade generalized anxiety. We started the session by looking at his homework.
It contained some pretty easy questions like, "A train is moving 10 feet per second, how long will it take to travel 100 feet?" (10 seconds)
He was flaberghasted, "I don't know how to do that."
So we stepped back, and I made up some even easier problems, until he realized that he did know how to solve all of his homework problems.
I wasn't satisfied, so I started making up harder problems.
Eventually we were using Wikipedia to find the distance to Pluto and the speed of the space shuttle (in miles per hour), so he could figure out how long it would take to fly the shuttle from the Earth to Pluto.*
Then he converted the answer from hours to years.
At the end of the session, I asked, "How do you think it went."
"Pretty good, the problems at the beginning were much harder than the ones at the end."
Now I was flabberghasted.
But he was right, at the beginning, the problems were much harder FOR HIM than they were at the end.
Learn about OVERCOMING MATH ANXIETY
Return from Math Tutor to Math Anxiety
* We assumed a straight-line path. When we were done I explained that the real trip would take much longer because it would be a spiraling orbit.