The sum of the square roots of any two sides of an isosceles triangle is equal to the square root of the remaining side.
June 13, 2012 2:32 PM Subscribe
My younger brother has just finished tenth grade. His math teacher was a martinet. His math teacher next year might turn out to be one too. How can I help my brother cope with this kind of instructor?
posted by Nomyte to Education (21 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
A confession: I hated tenth-grade math ("Algebra II with Trigonometry"). It was a grab bag of topics introduced incoherently and without motivation. Textbook problems made assumptions and sometimes failed to make them clear. By comparison, math in eleventh ("pre-calculus") and especially twelfth grade (intro univariate calculus) was a breath of fresh air. I am several years out of college now and I'm taking math classes for fun. Unambiguous definitions are awesome. Rigorous proofs are awesome. Math is awesome.
Math is not my brother's best subject, but he is eager to improve and often turns to me for help with homework. However, he often comes back with feedback that shows that most of the problems I helped with have been marked incorrect or had points deducted.
After some back and forth it became clear that my brother's math teacher was a pedant. He deducted points for mistakes made in students' scratchwork, even when the reasoning was sound and the ultimate answer was correct. He deducted points for "skipping steps." For example, when rewriting fractions with radical expressions in the denominator, he apparently wanted to see an explicit step with multiplication by sqrt(2)/sqrt(2), or whatever. He was a stickler for arbitrary notation: one I discovered through trial and error is that he only wanted sequences and series to be subindexed with n and no other letter. I habitually subindex with i.
My brother's work was bleeding points left and right, in no small part thanks to my help. This, in combination with his otherwise imperfect performance, was making math very frustrating for him.
I help with homework via video chat and do not have easy access to his teachers. How can I best support my brother's learning, especially in math? If you have been in a similar situation (as either the student or the tutor), what strategies worked best?