Math under pressure

This outstanding TED Talk by Barnard’s president is mainly about choking under pressure. But how interesting that the example Professor Beilock spends most time on is girls’ learning math.

One of the excellent points she makes so well is that there’s a difference between knowing how to do something, and being able to do it when the pressure’s on.  And as you have probably experienced yourself, the pressure is in some sense always on.

I’ve experienced this since my school days, and I’ve done my share of studying this issue and experimenting with various best practices. When it comes to preparation for math tests of any kind, I consider this issue to be of equal importance to actually learning math.

I know. It sounds like heresy. But I know it’s right. So we use a three-pronged approach to preparing for math tests and math competitions alike:

  • Learn the necessary math to fluency
  • Identify and resolve all your performance/execution issues (per the above)
  • Strengthen your ability to critically deconstruct and to creatively synthesize

We give equal weight to these keys to success, because we understand that it isn’t just about what you know. It’s also about what you can do, and how you feel when you do it.

 

Tutoring: in-person vs. offshore

As the offshore tutoring industry continues to gear up and get huge, I’ve been coming around to the idea that different people have different needs, and it’s good for everyone when many solutions are available for a problem. It’s just like having McDonald’s around the corner: it’s no good when you want a gourmet meal, but if you want a Big Mac, then that’s the very best place to go.

And then I read this article in SFGate, in which the following quote seems to have slipped past the editor:

Kevin said he feels more comfortable talking to his tutor — sight unseen — than asking questions in class: “No one is paying attention to me that much.”

Is it just me, or is this a problem with this “service”?