My predisposition as an educator

Not only did I get discouraged by my first teaching assistant experience for calculus last year, I realized my weakness even when trying to induce my own family members to learn. One serious limitation of my teaching style is that it presupposes the educated to be self-motivated, lacking nothing but material resource. Many individuals these days however need to be coaxed into learning mode. Indeed that is inseparable from the knowledge itself, just like in a fancy restaurant, the environment is equally as important as the quality of the food, if not more important. Being brought up in a frugal environment, with limited resource and an endless supply of curiosity, it is intrinsically difficult for me to grasp this latter paradigm.

In one-on-one tutoring, however, the pupil, being held directly hostage to his or her tuition, whether out of personal pocket, or the parents thereof, tends to show more concentration in the lectures. To be exposed to too many tutoring sessions could strike one a false impression that teaching can be well approximated by a Q&A session, or flat-out knowledge dumping. When confronted by a large audience of varying degree of interest and competing views of priority, the act of teaching can be deeply confounded by the concurrent need to interact, or the balance between indulgence and discipline. The students, never sympathizing with their overlords, are too busy minding self-interest to stop and think about the wasteful dynamics that conjure up a so-called wonderful learning experience. The truly inquisitive would compile a list of serious questions, many of which are nothing but for clarification and technical fine-tuning, and come to me for answers in a repetitive, yet thoughtful manner.


About aquazorcarson

math PhD at Stanford, studying probability
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One Response to My predisposition as an educator

  1. Simon says:

    Years of reinforcement have taught most people that mathematics is a fearful subject that they are not really capable of understanding. Before we teach them anything, we have to figure out how to chisel away at the bad attitude, so that the students are in a position to listen what we have to say and try to understand it. To be fair, it is harder to learn mathematics than to learn many other subjects: in many other subjects, people can do quite well to listen and remember what the teacher said; in mathematics, one gains nothing without processing and reinterpreting the ideas for oneself.

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