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Winging it

Discussion in 'Private tutors' started by Anonymous, Nov 9, 2011.

  1. Anonymous

    Anonymous New commenter

    And that's why I only tutor 1 person in A-level maths. They know I did A-level many years ago and am out of practise. The pupil started this September and he texts me during the week so I can get some reading in!! It's actually been pretty good - I am able to support him and push him along.
    I do have a pupil who is doing A-level physics and has asked me to support him with the maths for it. Again - he texts me and we work together so he can practise what he's learnt. I've done some physics but use my mechanics knowledge to help me.
    There is no way I could wing it in an area I do not know - would be too obvious!!!
  2. That's why we have to be better than your average school teacher ;) and that's half the fun of being a maths tutor.

    What happened exactly and did you wing it successfully?
  3. At least I got sent an email detailing what Fourier series was needed. I did them 30 years ago, so I did have to have my memory jogged.

    But it is true that you can't prepare everything for a lesson. Often students bring worksheets from school , with questions you have never seen before and expect you to explain everything on sight.
  4. There is a common problem in being faced with material never seen before. Most of the time a quick read through helps me get a grip on what is needed. However, A level work can present challenges and here I try to be honest with my students. If I have never seen the question I say so and then talk the students through what I would do to resolve the situation. They then see how someone conducts self-study, so to speak. It's good for them, as it shows that you can overcome being stuck and it gives them an insight into how problems are tackled in the real world, or sort of.
    I always take appropriate textbooks with me when tutoring, so I would have A level books on me that cover general courses, these tend to be my A level books so I know them well. If a question comes up that I don't know how to answer I would get the student to turn to the appropriate chapter in their own textbook, if present, or mine, if not. Together we can search out the necessary material to help us solve the problem.
    Honesty, in my opinion, is the best policy. So often my students see polished answers being given by their teachers and have no idea that mathematicians don't actually work like that. After all if they knew the answers what would be the point of doing the research.
  5. Textbooks have a lot of polished answers.

    I always explain to my students that until you have done 3 pages of working that has got nowhere , you don't really understand maths.
  6. Anonymous

    Anonymous New commenter

    Like I said - I have just started A-level Maths so we're both learning together. We are both pleased when the answer we get is the same as the one in the book - differentiation, points of inflexion and gradients / normals spring to mind. My job is to guide him through it and support his thinking.

  7. I think I must be misunderstanding you.

    All your students will be faced with questions they have never seen before when they sit their exams. They are expected to be able to answer them. How can it be a problem for you to be asked to answer questions you haven't seen before?

    But when they're doing A level questions mathematicians do work like that. Why would you not produce a polished solution?

    If I've misunderstood I apologise.
  8. Yes, you have misunderstood. My posts referred to the original post and is a continuing thread on the same point.
  9. Sorry then. Genuine misunderstanding.

    I'm still not sure what the problem is though. How often do you get presented with something you don't know how to do? Why are your students presenting you with questions from beyond their syllabus?

    It's a long time since I did my degree and I know I've forgotten a lot of what I did and so of course I would struggle to answer some questions that students could ask, but the thing is, they don't ask those questions. They expect me to be able to help them with the course I've told them that I can help them with.

    If they want to have a bit of fun by asking me why Turing computable functions are recursive or some such they're welcome to but I'm sure they wouldn't expect a polished answer.
    Do your students spring that sort of question on you?
  10. Last year I had to deal with the following, amongst other things:
    1) Maths based chemistry question. A level student due to sit CH1 next day and wanted help. I was able to deal with the maths and some of the topics as well.
    2) Maths based physics. A level student stuck on radiation physics, again a topic I can deal with so did.
    3) A Dad asking for 'engineering maths' help.
    4) My optitian asking me to prove the square root of 2 is irrational. That wasn't polished at all since I had to use a coffe stained envelope which was really too small.
    5) I regularly get asked to deal with balancing chemistry equations for GCSE etc. Again relatively easy but not polished.
    The point of all this is not that there is a problem with any of it, I'm getting paid for my time so i don't really mind what I do. But the original post talked about Fourier analysis, I think, and to give a polished answer to this does take a bit of thinking.
    Why would students present you with something outside their syllabus? Possibly because they are interested. I was asked to prove there are infinite numbers of primes, easy to do but again not polished since I had to do it on my feet. Perhaps the misunderstanding relates to your idea of polished and mine?
    6) I often get asked to deal with half-life in radiation questions. Again easy but not polished.
  11. Wow! Now I wonder why no-one is asking me this sort of thing.
  12. hhhh

    hhhh Star commenter

    I had one parent ask me to help her child write a book review that night... I had never read the book. If she had given me even a day's notice, I could have produced a useful lesson plan. As it was, I couldn't. We aren't superheroes...
  13. Yes, just a short bit of notice would be a vast help in some cases. But I virtually never get a text from a student or parent saying what they would like in the next lesson, even if they know they will be asking for something unusual.
  14. I got a text on Wed - SUVAT equations - what!!!Looked in my physics book and maths book. Nope - quick Google search - was what I had planned to do anyway.
  15. Look in any Mechanics 1 text for these.
  16. Anonymous

    Anonymous New commenter

    Got them in my physics book. Just didn't know the name.
    From other threads - I really only tutor up to GCSE but someone I did last year is doing physics and wants some maths input. I've only got a Core maths book at the moment but am learning lots of physics.
  17. saynotoboxticking

    saynotoboxticking New commenter

    My god. Did I read that right ?

    You're working through the a level 'together'.

    I'm gobsmacked they'd employ someone who hasn't the relevant qulaification themselves in the first place. Private students should be paying for your expertise, and ability to short circuit methods and coach for exams...
    No disrespect intended !
  18. Anonymous

    Anonymous New commenter

    If you had bothered to read the whole thread - you might realise that I taught the boy last year and they really liked me so they wanted to continue with me. I do have A-level maths (just a long time ago) and the parents do know this. They are happy and so is the tutee.
    I do not normally do A-level maths but they wanted my helpful manner so here we are. I've discussed this on other threads.

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