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Keeping Children Interested

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  • Keeping Children Interested

    Hello,

    I am looking for all opinions on this issue, I think it transcends the 'party lines' drawn out on this site.

    So, I am an undergraduate physics student and as a two-way favour I have agreed to tutor a family friend's child in maths and science a few times a week over the Christmas break. I say that the favour is two ways because I could use the money, and they could use the tutoring - I have no real ambition to go into teaching, but i'm quite happy to do this (it will help my application to teach on the pre-med physics summer school that my university runs).

    I know a few people on this site are teachers, or have opinions on education and i'd love to hear from you. How do I keep a 15 year old interested in learning about quadratic equations? Is an hour a reasonable length of time to engage someone considering I have no teaching experience?

    One thing that I think I have going for me is that I really do understand the material I will be teaching, and I actually think most of it is pretty cool. I hope my enthusiasm can spill over onto them. I have found that's what all my favourite teachers were like.

    So this is a rather broad thread, but if you have anything to say, i'd like to hear it

    Thanks,

    Lntz
    It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart you are. If it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong. - Richard Feynman

  • #2
    Originally posted by Lntz View Post
    Hello,
    I am looking for all opinions on this issue, I think it transcends the 'party lines' drawn out on this site.
    I am not a teacher, but I suspect the best place to start is with a pre-test, perhaps starting with easy algebra and word problems and going up to some items you are considering teaching, just to be sure of their current level and interests (if any). Listening to student explaining what they know about each type of problem would be ideal.

    Showing them that there are sometimes easy ways to solve problems which at first seem very difficult might get them interested.
    Mixing up problems, so that first step is to work out what method to use is better than having to work through several problems of same type.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Keith C View Post
      I am not a teacher, but I suspect the best place to start is with a pre-test, perhaps starting with easy algebra and word problems and going up to some items you are considering teaching, just to be sure of their current level and interests (if any). Listening to student explaining what they know about each type of problem would be ideal.

      Showing them that there are sometimes easy ways to solve problems which at first seem very difficult might get them interested.
      Mixing up problems, so that first step is to work out what method to use is better than having to work through several problems of same type.
      I think this is very good advice, thanks.

      All I really know about his understanding is that he's 15, so rapidly approaching his GCSE's. Sussing out where I need to spend the most time is best for all of us.

      Also, with regards to your final point, I could not agree more. It's easy to get sucked into the "this is the instruction set used for solving this kind of problem", which leaves a weakness in that what a question actually boils down to is not always obvious.

      I don't know how much impact I can realistically have in a few weeks, but hopefully I can be a supplementary resource to his own revision.
      It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart you are. If it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong. - Richard Feynman

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Lntz View Post
        Hello,

        I am looking for all opinions on this issue, I think it transcends the 'party lines' drawn out on this site.

        So, I am an undergraduate physics student and as a two-way favour I have agreed to tutor a family friend's child in maths and science a few times a week over the Christmas break. I say that the favour is two ways because I could use the money, and they could use the tutoring - I have no real ambition to go into teaching, but i'm quite happy to do this (it will help my application to teach on the pre-med physics summer school that my university runs).

        I know a few people on this site are teachers, or have opinions on education and i'd love to hear from you. How do I keep a 15 year old interested in learning about quadratic equations? Is an hour a reasonable length of time to engage someone considering I have no teaching experience?

        One thing that I think I have going for me is that I really do understand the material I will be teaching, and I actually think most of it is pretty cool. I hope my enthusiasm can spill over onto them. I have found that's what all my favourite teachers were like.

        So this is a rather broad thread, but if you have anything to say, i'd like to hear it

        Thanks,

        Lntz
        find out what the student's ambitions are, then show how vital a good pass in maths at GCSE is to achieving those ambitions. You may be able to show direct relevance to the career aim. If not, a C pass in maths is vital whatever they want to do next. You might be able to spark interest and passion in the subject, but if that were the case, they wouldn't need tutoring. Play to self-interest. "You need to pass the exam. A bit of hard work on these equations will enable you to do so. This will make your next term easier at school, etc. etc."
        Your belief in Julius Caesar proves the existence of God.
        CARM poster

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Lntz View Post
          Hello,

          I am looking for all opinions on this issue, I think it transcends the 'party lines' drawn out on this site.

          So, I am an undergraduate physics student and as a two-way favour I have agreed to tutor a family friend's child in maths and science a few times a week over the Christmas break. I say that the favour is two ways because I could use the money, and they could use the tutoring - I have no real ambition to go into teaching, but i'm quite happy to do this (it will help my application to teach on the pre-med physics summer school that my university runs).

          I know a few people on this site are teachers, or have opinions on education and i'd love to hear from you. How do I keep a 15 year old interested in learning about quadratic equations? Is an hour a reasonable length of time to engage someone considering I have no teaching experience?

          One thing that I think I have going for me is that I really do understand the material I will be teaching, and I actually think most of it is pretty cool. I hope my enthusiasm can spill over onto them. I have found that's what all my favourite teachers were like.

          So this is a rather broad thread, but if you have anything to say, i'd like to hear it

          Thanks,

          Lntz
          Passion, enthusiasm, and PATIENCE. Lots of patience is key.

          The ability to explain things in multiple ways. If that doesn't work, try this. If not this, that. If you know the material well, that will help.

          I always enjoy you as a poster; you seem to have healthy "people skills" and that is a huge asset as a potential teacher. That will get you far.

          Also. If you are tutoring a teen who is behind, start with easy steps and give lots of positive feedback. I know this seems like it might be just placating and all that silly 80s "self esteem" stuff, but if it is a kid who's behind or struggling, often the encouragement means SO much. If this student is behind, start at an easier, slower pace than you think you need to. Let him/her feel some confidence. That's huge in a subject of struggle. Then give them a challenge, but pepper it with lots of encouragement. Then that push and pull continues. Challenge with encouragement.

          (In my subject, I sometimes tell kids where they have come from and where they are going. Be a "signpost" for your student; tell them where they are on the map. IOW, "Look what you're doing here. Last week you couldn't XYZ, but this week you XYZ. That's good progress!")

          Eh...I might be overwhelming you, Lntz. I've been teaching for a long time. A lot of this stuff becomes intrinsic, but also, much of it is instinctive. You seem eager, you know the material, and you have good basic people skills. Stay positive, be patient, and encourage. Then you will do a great job.

          Please let me know if you have questions!
          One thing have I asked of the LORD... that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple.--Psalm 27:4

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Lntz View Post
            Hello,

            I am looking for all opinions on this issue, I think it transcends the 'party lines' drawn out on this site.

            So, I am an undergraduate physics student and as a two-way favour I have agreed to tutor a family friend's child in maths and science a few times a week over the Christmas break. I say that the favour is two ways because I could use the money, and they could use the tutoring - I have no real ambition to go into teaching, but i'm quite happy to do this (it will help my application to teach on the pre-med physics summer school that my university runs).

            I know a few people on this site are teachers, or have opinions on education and i'd love to hear from you. How do I keep a 15 year old interested in learning about quadratic equations? Is an hour a reasonable length of time to engage someone considering I have no teaching experience?

            One thing that I think I have going for me is that I really do understand the material I will be teaching, and I actually think most of it is pretty cool. I hope my enthusiasm can spill over onto them. I have found that's what all my favourite teachers were like.

            So this is a rather broad thread, but if you have anything to say, i'd like to hear it

            Thanks,

            Lntz
            Science?

            Labs are the fun part, kids are going to enjoy a properly designed exercise and will normally get into it.

            Unfortunately, the background and math are not so enjoyable. There's really no way around this, given that it's rote memorization and math. They either like the subject or they don't, with no real middle ground that I've ever seen. You might be able to keep them motivated through external factors such as those Wendy suggests, but that's never as good as intrinsic motivation, wanting to learn it because they enjoy the subject matter.
            Candles burning bright in the darkness, a little closer and you are warmed, closer still and you fear to see what is beyond. However, we must not avoid what the flame reveals, for often fear turns to wonder in the candle's light.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Lntz View Post
              Hello,

              I am looking for all opinions on this issue, I think it transcends the 'party lines' drawn out on this site.

              So, I am an undergraduate physics student and as a two-way favour I have agreed to tutor a family friend's child in maths and science a few times a week over the Christmas break. I say that the favour is two ways because I could use the money, and they could use the tutoring - I have no real ambition to go into teaching, but i'm quite happy to do this (it will help my application to teach on the pre-med physics summer school that my university runs).

              I know a few people on this site are teachers, or have opinions on education and i'd love to hear from you. How do I keep a 15 year old interested in learning about quadratic equations? Is an hour a reasonable length of time to engage someone considering I have no teaching experience?

              One thing that I think I have going for me is that I really do understand the material I will be teaching, and I actually think most of it is pretty cool. I hope my enthusiasm can spill over onto them. I have found that's what all my favourite teachers were like.

              So this is a rather broad thread, but if you have anything to say, i'd like to hear it

              Thanks,

              Lntz
              Khan academy.org

              I'd start there.
              ********
              cassie
              ********
              Fundies say the darndest things - simplicio

              Every saint has a past, every sinner has a future.

              Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.” - Martin Luther King Jr.

              for today, for this moment... it is well with my soul.

              as long as there is life, there is hope.

              what unites us is stronger than what divides us...

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Tolpuddlematyr View Post
                find out what the student's ambitions are, then show how vital a good pass in maths at GCSE is to achieving those ambitions. You may be able to show direct relevance to the career aim. If not, a C pass in maths is vital whatever they want to do next. You might be able to spark interest and passion in the subject, but if that were the case, they wouldn't need tutoring. Play to self-interest. "You need to pass the exam. A bit of hard work on these equations will enable you to do so. This will make your next term easier at school, etc. etc."
                Thanks for the tip, the student wanting to do well must certainly make my job easier.

                I hope he is aiming to take maths and science at A-level. It would be nice to tutor him with the goal of stretching his understanding, and helping him get ahead. I have met him a few times, so I have no doubt that he understands he must pass these exams at least with a C.
                It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart you are. If it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong. - Richard Feynman

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by WendyWrites View Post
                  Passion, enthusiasm, and PATIENCE. Lots of patience is key.

                  The ability to explain things in multiple ways. If that doesn't work, try this. If not this, that. If you know the material well, that will help.

                  I always enjoy you as a poster; you seem to have healthy "people skills" and that is a huge asset as a potential teacher. That will get you far.

                  Also. If you are tutoring a teen who is behind, start with easy steps and give lots of positive feedback. I know this seems like it might be just placating and all that silly 80s "self esteem" stuff, but if it is a kid who's behind or struggling, often the encouragement means SO much. If this student is behind, start at an easier, slower pace than you think you need to. Let him/her feel some confidence. That's huge in a subject of struggle. Then give them a challenge, but pepper it with lots of encouragement. Then that push and pull continues. Challenge with encouragement.

                  (In my subject, I sometimes tell kids where they have come from and where they are going. Be a "signpost" for your student; tell them where they are on the map. IOW, "Look what you're doing here. Last week you couldn't XYZ, but this week you XYZ. That's good progress!")

                  Eh...I might be overwhelming you, Lntz. I've been teaching for a long time. A lot of this stuff becomes intrinsic, but also, much of it is instinctive. You seem eager, you know the material, and you have good basic people skills. Stay positive, be patient, and encourage. Then you will do a great job.

                  Please let me know if you have questions!
                  Thanks Wendy, I was hoping you'd respond

                  I think you bring up some really great points, and I can map them onto some of my favourite teachers from school. I remember finding A-level maths tough in the first year, and my teacher was really good at keeping me motivated. I remember him telling me that he struggled as well, and how that has helped him to connect with students who also struggled, due to a better understanding of the stumbling blocks. He is definitely partially responsible for getting me to where I am.

                  Being a sign post could definitely work in the topics I will be tutoring. Lots of it is a gradual process.

                  Thanks again!
                  It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart you are. If it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong. - Richard Feynman

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by wataru View Post
                    Science?

                    Labs are the fun part, kids are going to enjoy a properly designed exercise and will normally get into it.

                    Unfortunately, the background and math are not so enjoyable. There's really no way around this, given that it's rote memorization and math. They either like the subject or they don't, with no real middle ground that I've ever seen. You might be able to keep them motivated through external factors such as those Wendy suggests, but that's never as good as intrinsic motivation, wanting to learn it because they enjoy the subject matter.
                    Experiments would be great, but I am limited by resources and the fact that I will be in their dining room. (no soap bubbles and gas taps!) I can probably investigate hooke's law experimentally to some degree, but calorimetry is likely a step too far. Standing waves would be easy too, but I need to have a closer look at their syllabus.

                    It's a shame that at this level it's hard to make the maths interesting, and that there is quite a narrow approach to what they need to know. Studying the maths and then learning how to apply it to physical situations is actually one of my favourite things about my degree.
                    It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart you are. If it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong. - Richard Feynman

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by cas07 View Post
                      Khan academy.org

                      I'd start there.
                      Khan Academy is a great resource, but I can't put it on for an hour and leave

                      I could get him to review the topics on there beforehand though.
                      It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart you are. If it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong. - Richard Feynman

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        "How do I keep a 15 year old interested in learning about quadratic equations?"

                        Put it in practical context. If the stuff is totally unimportant to the "learner", and constitutes nothing of practical value to them - lots of luck.

                        In order for ANY information to "Stick" - it has to be practically good for something that the one learning wants to accomplish, and will actually be USING of a regular enough basis for it not to be forgotten.

                        If the ONLY goal is the Short term goal of passing the exam, then TEACH THE EXAM - since that's all it'll ever be used for, and promptly forgotten afterwards.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Bob Carabbio View Post
                          Put it in practical context. If the stuff is totally unimportant to the "learner", and constitutes nothing of practical value to them - lots of luck.

                          In order for ANY information to "Stick" - it has to be practically good for something that the one learning wants to accomplish, and will actually be USING of a regular enough basis for it not to be forgotten.

                          If the ONLY goal is the Short term goal of passing the exam, then TEACH THE EXAM - since that's all it'll ever be used for, and promptly forgotten afterwards.
                          Unfortunately students need to be taught material which will be useful for them for at least the next 50 years. They may not need to remember the quadratic solution, but they should be able to realize when they need it, be able to look it up when necessary, and to us it to solve problems.

                          Outside of mathematics, students need to know a good outline of world history, geography, economic history and religious history. I include economic and religious history because people need to understand how the world got into its present mess so that they may help with the solution rather than digging us deeper.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Bob Carabbio View Post
                            "How do I keep a 15 year old interested in learning about quadratic equations?"

                            Put it in practical context. If the stuff is totally unimportant to the "learner", and constitutes nothing of practical value to them - lots of luck.

                            In order for ANY information to "Stick" - it has to be practically good for something that the one learning wants to accomplish, and will actually be USING of a regular enough basis for it not to be forgotten.

                            If the ONLY goal is the Short term goal of passing the exam, then TEACH THE EXAM - since that's all it'll ever be used for, and promptly forgotten afterwards.
                            I agree with parts of what you have said, but disagree with others.

                            It most certainly is easier to learn about something where it's usefulness is immediately obvious, but practical use isn't the only motivation for learning. I have since found out more about his (the person I will tutor) goals, and it looks like A-levels and then university are preferred options, so decent grades in maths and science are essential to this progression - regardless of what he goes on to study.

                            Maybe he will go on to study a STEM subject, in which case he can't just forget what he learns at this stage, or maybe he won't. The problem solving skills alone that tackling questions helps to build up are a valuable skill for anyone to have.
                            It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart you are. If it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong. - Richard Feynman

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Lntz View Post
                              Khan Academy is a great resource, but I can't put it on for an hour and leave

                              I could get him to review the topics on there beforehand though.
                              Which is why I suggested starting there, not staying there...
                              ********
                              cassie
                              ********
                              Fundies say the darndest things - simplicio

                              Every saint has a past, every sinner has a future.

                              Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.” - Martin Luther King Jr.

                              for today, for this moment... it is well with my soul.

                              as long as there is life, there is hope.

                              what unites us is stronger than what divides us...

                              Comment

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