Why? Because I Said So!

Want to know the best question a student can ask in Maths? Or, anywhere, in my humble opinion. A single word, that opens up a world of potential. A word that inspires curiosity, arguably the most important trait in any budding Mathematician or Scientist.

“Why?”

It is the very definition of curiosity. It shows interest, sparks excitement and fascination, and usually leads to a much deeper understanding on whatever they happening to be studying.

Unfortunately, this wonderful question can often be met with some truly horrible answers.

“Because that’s the way it is”

“Because I said so”

“That doesn’t really matter”

I hear it far too often. In school, in sport, even in art, and especially the workplace. And every single time, I cringe.

For quite a few reasons.

It means the instructor doesn’t really understand

If someone can’t explain why a process is in place, they probably don’t truly understand the process in the first place. Which, in itself is not a crime. We are all learning something at some point.

The real issue is that, when someone is in a position to teach, it can be easy to fall into the trap of believing they should know everything. Rather than accepting gaps in their own knowledge and striving to fill them. Students love seeing that their teachers (or tutors, or coaches, or managers) are human too. We are all learning. But by refusing to admit that you don’t know something, you’re doing a disservice to yourself AND your student.

It discourages curiosity

If students don’t get satisfying answers to questions, eventually they’ll just stop asking. Which is worse. Much worse. It ends up perpetuating the vicious cycle that we all moan about.

It’s a big trend at the moment to complain about how the education system is broken. Which it kind of is. But I firmly believe that nurturing curiosity can save it.

It’s all well and good to talk about personalised learning experience, multi faceted learning, and all the other fads. And while they’re brilliant ideas, they’re not sustainable in the world we live in – there aren’t enough teachers in classrooms, and they aren’t paid enough to be able to foster that kind of environment permanently.

The thing that IS killing the system is situations in which students are afraid or otherwise discouraged from discovering things for themselves. Asking questions, adventuring, and being curious.

It gives knowledge without wisdom

We all know the saying.

Knowledge is knowing the tomato is a fruit, wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

Knowledge is knowing how to add two numbers together. Wisdom is knowing when to add two numbers together.

One without the other creates very human looking calculators, and not a whole lot more.

If a student asks why, either answer the question, or find someone who can.

 

UNICEF Donation – April 2018

Well, another month down already!

It’s a little frightening just how fast this year is going. I swear yesterday it was New Year’s Day….

And yet, somehow we’re already well into Term 2!

Go figure….

As with every month, we have once again donated to the UNICEF foundation – $1 for every hour of tutoring provided in the month of April.

The exciting news is that the amount keeps going up each month! Thanks to your help, we continue to increase our impact each month.

Donation for April – $54.50

Click here to see our donations progress so far this year

As always, thank you for your continued support as we continue to do our part in making a difference!

 

How To Spot A Troublesome Teacher…

How to Spot a Troublesome Teacher

Unfortunately, the frustrating truth of the school system is that not all teachers are fantastic.

Don’t get me wrong, many teachers are outstanding. They are both passionate and patient, taking the time for each and every one of their students.

But for every teacher who loves their job, there is another who doesn’t.

A troublesome teacher who, for whatever reason, is frustrating to work with for both students and parents. These teachers can cause endless headaches, anxiety and all around discomfort for students. And there can be some pretty daunting flow-on effects from this too.

Here’s some of the most common signs I’ve noticed about teachers who might not be doing the best job they could….

Relying solely on a textbook to teach

The textbook in any subject is quite often the backbone of a curriculum.

But they are also convoluted, and frequently present information in baffling ways.

It is the role of a teacher to take the content there and translate it into a language that makes sense to his students. Which means that simply regurgitating the content without further explanation or insight isn’t really the best use of a teacher’s skills…

Refusing to answer questions

Questions are what make the difference between a classroom and a lecture. They allow students to grow and develop their own thoughts, processes and analyses.

However, I hear more and more reports of troublesome teachers who simply don’t acknowledge questions. Students who want to learn are being ignored, or even punished, for being curious.

This is most commonly seen in situations where perhaps teachers may not actually know the answer to a question. This in itself is not particularly problematic. The issue is when a teacher refuses to admit that they don’t know, prefering to avoid the question rather than explain that they may need to do some research or refreshing themself.

Being more interested in showing what they know, rather than teaching

This actually shines through more commonly than you might think.

Teachers are often incredibly knowledgeable about their specialty, and they are rightly proud of that fact.

However, this shouldn’t be an invitation for a teacher to show off at every opportunity. Most of those more complex explanations end up confusing and intimidating students, rather than teaching them.

Unfortunately, teachers like this are part of the reason that tutors like myself are so busy…

A common reason for students to get a tutor is due to the fact that they don’t feel comfortable with relying solely on their teacher. Sometimes, this is simply due to time constraints or the difficulty of the content.

More commonly, however, is the fact that students don’t respond well to the teacher and how they run the class.

If you do find yourself in this position, organising a private tutor or other third-party help is always a great step in the right direction. They can help to solidify your understanding as well as your own confidence in the subject, and give you a “safety net” to rely on.

Teachers do such an important job in our world, and so very many of them are outstanding role-models and invaluable assets to students lives. Making sure that we hold them to a high standard is critical to ensuring that students across the country (and realistically, the world) receive the absolute best education they can.

[Video] Solving Circular Function Equations | Maths Methods

In the past few weeks, as I’ve worked with quite a few Methods students, circular function equations have frequently popped up as an issue.

It’s a recurring theme that often tends to cause difficulty, which is why I recently posted a live video lesson to help explain the process more clearly.

This is the method I use to confidently tackle every question of this sort. It’s a little lengthy sometimes, but it always pays off.

Why such a convoluted method?

The reason this methods is so lengthy is simple – most students learn 2-3 methods for dealing with these questions to help the tackle all scenarios, which is tedious at best.

This method a single series of steps.  Steps that will work without fail for any question, no matter how simple or complex. Which means that students ultimately save time.

Without having to commit multiple processes to memory, life gets easier. It is far easier for students to work through a series of steps without aid.

Want more questions like this?

Our Facebook page Making Sense Of VCE Methods is dedicated to providing support and resources for Methods students. We will post new videos weekly, as well as other resources for students studying Methods. If you’re looking for resources for other subjects, why not get in touch as let us know? Drop us a line here and let us know what you’d like to see.

Why Working Hard Alone Isn’t It Doing The Trick Anymore

Working hard alone isn't doing the trick anymore

Students (much like adults in the working world) are finding that, in this day and age, that simply working hard isn’t paying off the same way that is used to.

It doesn’t seem fair, but it is what seems to happen. The real question is, if working hard isn’t doing the trick, what will?

You have to learn how to work smart

There’s a big difference. Working hard is grinding through questions in the hope that sheer numbers or time commitments make all the difference.

Working smart is finding the high-quality activities that help you concrete your knowledge.

These aren’t always easy to find, but they are far more beneficial from an education point of view.

Working hard vs working smart – the difference is all the world to senior students

Students moving into the senior years of high school are finding this even more. As the pressure continues to build, and workloads keep increasing, time is becoming a scarce resource.

Which is why it is so important for you, as a student, to make decisions that will improve the time you do spend studying.

Maths can make it particularly tricky

Working hard in Maths often seems like the only option. Do enough practice questions and hope for the best, right?

The truth is, there are a few small changes you can make that can drastically improve the time you do spend studying.

  • If you only have time to do a few questions, pick them out from the end of the topic, not the start. The start of the topic is very segregated and doesn’t cover all ideas. Questions at the end are better for testing your understanding
  • Go for quality, not quantity. One extended answer question is usually better than 10 quick ones.
  • Help your friends – teaching is a great way to reinforce your understanding and check for any gaps.

It doesn’t take much to make your time much more valuable

Just a few small changes can make one hour of study more valuable than three hours of mindless practice. Which is a win for everyone!