Mathematics is not ‘the favorite subject’ for many. Most parents complain about the low grades their children score in mathematics. Why is it that students find this subject difficult? We cannot blame the subject because there are a handful of students who excel in the subject as well as enjoy solving mathematical problems.
Teachers can, to a large extent, influence student’s mentality towards a subject. Leaving mathematics aside, we are also familiar with students who find difficulty in learning subjects like biology, history etc. The student’s affinity towards the subject of course has a great influence on the way the student performs. But larger is the influence that the method of teaching and the teacher’s attitude has on a student’s attitude towards a subject.
Calculus is probably the most difficult branch of mathematics. To perform well in calculus a student needs to have a very good base on algebra, trigonometry and geometry. This makes teaching calculus a real challenge. A calculus teacher should therefore have a strong base on all branches of mathematics and should be willing to discuss algebra, trigonometry and geometry in the calculus class if necessary.
Teaching mathematics, especially calculus demands lots of patience. A good calculus tutor should understand that calculus is not about formulas. It has immense applications in real life. Therefore the tutor should take the responsibility of teaching the subject in a very interactive manner. This is possible if the tutor is ready to invest time in discussing with the students the history of calculus and the vocabulary of calculus in addition to dedicating sessions that aim at frequently refreshing the student’s memory.
A calculus tutor will need to be a creative thinker. Finding good examples that students can relate to will make the process of teaching this subject very easy. They should be friendly because calculus is sure to confuse students and they will need constant interaction between themselves as well as with the tutor. Encouraging good performers can positively motivate other students also.
A good calculus tutor may not be someone who has managed to get excellent degrees and scores. A teacher sure needs the knowledge but, more important is the willingness to share the knowledge properly. There should be a readiness to accept mistakes, patience to explain the same concept again and again and the dedication to keep himself or herself updated.
Calculus, which was previously taught only from college level, is now included in the school curriculum. Understanding a subject of such magnitude is obviously a Hercules task for school students. School authorities can also render a helping hand by allocating more time for the subject. Obviously, this would mean that the calculus tutor should be willing to take extra hours and show the dedication to commit more of his or her time to teaching the subject.
In short, calculus sessions can be made more interesting by handling the class less like a mathematics session involving just formulas. Teachers can concentrate more on conveying the real life implications of calculus thereby encouraging independent thinking in students.