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Who is better? student or tutor?

  1. May 11, 2012 #1
    Do you think a postgrad maths student would be a better high school maths tutor than a typical high school teacher?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 13, 2012 #2
    Well, frankly speaking, a postgrad student knows a lot more than a high school teacher, so he can help out the student in a much better way, assuming both the postgrad student and high school teacher have the same teaching qualities.

    But having said that, there can be some students who are a real pain and they need tutors who beat the hell out of them.

    I myself am a postgrad and I used to tutor this son of a wealthy family. It's as if I was speaking to my boss who's had a bad day in the office with his boss. It makes me wonder if all rich kids are this way with their tutors or it's just me.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 13, 2012
  4. May 13, 2012 #3
    Of course, it's me! Isn't it?
  5. May 13, 2012 #4


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    This depends highly on how you judge someone to be "better" at tutoring. If the person knows everything about math, but has no idea how to explain it to someone that requires a tutor, then he probably isn't a very good tutor!
  6. May 13, 2012 #5
    The guy who is a better HS math tutor wins every time.
  7. May 13, 2012 #6
    You can know all the math in the world and still be an awful teacher. I think I'd make a pretty good teacher because I'm usually pretty good at explaining things. I'm usually sensitive to student's lack of understanding of certain things, because I remember what I had trouble with, and that was pretty much everything.
    Some teachers seem to be absolutely gobsmacked that a student wouldn't know something.
    Some teachers also put out information in a way that has no context. Like this programming book I'm reading right now is throwing in phrases that explain what C can do, without explaining what those phrases mean, or in what context I need to remember them.
    It tells me about this one thing, says it's the smallest, and there's a bigger version, and then a bigger version still. Well, that tells me absolutely nothing other than the fact that they exist in reality. It tells me nothing about what they are, how I use them, when I use them, or how TO use them.

    I think very few teachers and books teach well. If they did, I wouldn't have to use Google so much.
  8. May 13, 2012 #7
    But, if you do not any math, you will definitely be an awful math teacher.

    How is this relevant to the thread?

    Especially if it was the topic of the previous lecture.

    Consider the compensation the teacher, or the book author gets compared to the number of people they are supposed to inseminate this knowledge to.
  9. May 13, 2012 #8

    Chi Meson

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    Consider the fact that (my point of view) there are 20 students in a HS class who are a 20 different levels of understanding, 20 different levels of background information, 20 different levels of effort, and at 20 different phases in life for being able to pay attention or read a textbook.

    "Gobsmacked" is the perfect term for how I felt just in the past few days. We had done "Waves and Sound" unit. I ask the test question "Describe the Doppler Effect". I thought this would be the year in which NO one would say it is about how "a sound gets louder as it gets closer." I swear, I make a big deal about what it is: we do the math, we throw the noisy ball around, we run past the noisy ball, I assign animated interactive applets to play with, I demonstrate--while running around the class going "neeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee"-- why certain answers are incorrect (to avoid saying "pitch increases as it gets closer" etc.). I have been working on this particular concept, for the past decade, striving to have it "perfectly taught." And still, I get 5 to 10% of students indicating complete ignorance, or worse, answers that I had clearly stated would be "wrong, all wrong, no credit."

    What's the point? You really can't compare the effectiveness of a HS teacher to that of a Grad Tutor. One must, by necessity, pare the material to the minimum, and massage it into the heads of a group that is 75% unenthusiastic (again that's my point of view: 1 in 4 of my students will show some form of marked enthusiasm during any particular unit; others might be quietly, covertly enthused, but they won't tell me). I am expected and compelled to try my best to reach that bottom 5% in my class, and that is to the detriment of my best students.

    A grad tutor has the advantage of having a singular audience (or at least very small by comparison) who is invested in the subject, and can focus on particular details.

    Ultimately it depends on the brain at the receiving end.
  10. May 13, 2012 #9


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    I wonder if there is a way to make HS math more adaptive to different levels of understanding. Being only 30 I took my General GRE on a computer where the math section was adaptive. If I answered correctly, it gave me a harder problem next, if incorrectly an easier one. If you used this for a average distribution HS class it would allow EVERYONE to be challenged, while still being challenged at their level of ability.

    Does anyone know of any schools doing this yet?

    .... Just found a product : http://www.carnegielearning.com/secondary-solutions/adaptive-math/ [Broken]

    I wonder how hard this is to implement. I'm sure it'd be easy in mid to high income areas where everyone has computer access 24hrs a day. Lower income schools probalby couldnt count on kids doing their homework if they NEED a computer.

    Actually, different from their product, it would be easy to just make a homework based site where each question was worth points 1-5 (like the GRE). And the goal is to get to say, 25 points. So the students who know the material have to answer maybe 5 questions, while someone who has no idea what theyre doing falls down to easy 1 point questions and does a lot of them, hopefully working their way up.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  11. May 13, 2012 #10
    Well yes, so obviously there's a middle ground somewhere between the two extremes.
    Well, my post in general is on topic. I don't know why you would dissect my post and grab something from the middle of it and ask me how that specific quote is relevant to the thread. This place is usually pretty genial, so I don't know if you woke up on the wrong side of the bed or what, but we don't need that here.
    The topic of the previous lecture wouldn't be one of the things I'm excusing a student from not knowing.
    If they were better compensated, they would have better teaching skills?
  12. May 13, 2012 #11
    True. Although notice the nature of the limiting cases. If you don't know any math you are CERTAINLY a bad teacher. However, if you know a lot of maths, you ARE NOT GUARANTEED to be a good math teacher.

    In other words, math knowledge is a necessary, but not a sufficient condition for being a (good) math teacher.

    Because "what's in the middle" is usually the content of your post supporting your stance and conclusions.

    I still fail to see how:
    is relevant to addressing the question posed by the op?

    Are you a post grad student? Are you a high school teacher? Are you applying for a teacher position, and this is an excerpt from your statement of purpose?

    Ok, but I can't read your mind, can I?

    You may look at it this way. If the compensation for a teacher position would have been bigger, it would attract more able math student to consider a choice of carrier in high school teaching. At the present level, only those who lack other options of carrier choices, opt for a high school teacher position.
  13. May 13, 2012 #12
    I'll just ignore your comments about the relevance of my specific comment, since you apparently think the remedy for an off topic comment is an entire off topic debate about the off topic comment.

    That doesn't explain why the books are pretty bad a lot of the time, too.
  14. May 13, 2012 #13
    I am pretty satisfied from the books I've read. I don't know what you are reading, so I cannot generalize. But, then again, neither can you.
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