View Full Version : The problem with higher level math

12-17-2004, 12:05 PM
Been meaning to share this for a couple weeks:

I tutor math Pre-calculas and below (though mainly Alegbra and below). I also just finished up with first semester calculas. I had a tutee come in for Alegbra 1 and one of the questions was to find the min or max of an equation. Well it was just an upside down parabola. Nothing hard, just take the first derivative set it to zero, solve for x. Oh wait this is alegbra. I could not for the life of me remember how to do it without calculas. So I look in his book and find the page that had it in it: ( -b/2a, f(-b/2a) ). Of course I realize at that point that they had just given them the solve for x part of the derivative. But its kinda hard to nicely put the "I don't know how to solve it down at your level".

Oh well I hope you laugh at me because well I sure did the rest of the day ;)

12-17-2004, 12:17 PM
I don't think there is much to laugh at - its just a normal learning process. Learn a simplified version first, then the proper and more accurate version second, and once you are a master of the second, use the most efficient and most accurate shortcuts you can.

But I had similar things happen to me as well helping people in pre calc and even calc - I sure as hell don't remember how to find derivitives "the long way" - if you know what I mean. And with system of equations I right away set up an adjacency matrix, rather then doing some silly crossing over :p

12-19-2004, 02:45 AM
What still amazes me is that I just finished Yr 12 specialist maths (complex numbers, quadratic iterations, calculus and deductive geometry and all that crap) on an 'A', got a bunch of awards for it etc., but today at work I charged someone $6.50, and they gave me a $5 note and a $2 coin, I told them they were 50c short. Simple addition and subtraction really confuses me some times. Do any of you have that problem?

12-19-2004, 02:50 AM
More often then I'm willing to admit :)

12-19-2004, 07:17 AM
today at work I charged someone $6.50, and they gave me a $5 note and a $2 coin, I told them they were 50c short. Simple addition and subtraction really confuses me some times. Do any of you have that problem?
Of course. I know maths, but I'm not a computer. :)

12-19-2004, 08:20 AM
I personally found a lot of the concepts in higher level math easier to understand at a fundamental/intuitive level than a lot of the concepts in pre calculus. And, yes, my calculus class is rigorously based on proofs, and it's a relatively high level math course (differential equations with vector calculus).

I now know where the quadratic equation comes from, but only after taking university engineering courses. In high school I would not have been able to tell you what the quadratic formula meant for the life of me much less proved how it works.

Anyone else feel similarly?

12-19-2004, 03:56 PM
I do the same thing you do for work Thantos, I tutor everything from pre-algebra to calculus 3 and differential equations(my favorite). I had the same exact question come up and to be honest I did not know. I looked it up in their book and it was only till I got home till I noticed why. As a result I have that formula memorized LOL. The fact is, as a tutor, there is just so much information to know, especially when you are tutoring like 12 different courses and you have your own courses to worry about plus your other responsibilites other than school. It is alot to handle, it really is. But you know the best way to learn is to teach and at the same time you are helping others also so don't let it get you down. Sometimes when I have drawn a blank, I have gotten the comment, "wow the tutor doesn't even know" or when the student figures it out before I do I've gotten the "I thought you were supposed to the tutor not me", followed by a smile or a laugh. People are usually very polite, if you ever get someone who is somewhat rude just be as nice as possible. Goodluck.

12-19-2004, 04:57 PM
Not personally, but I know a fellow back in NC that can't do arithmatic. I mean, he has to add single digit numbers on his fingers. Yet, this same guy can solve calc. and(I think) diff. equations in his head without much effort.

Edit: I'm still an ignorant pre-college jerk so I have yet to learn the 'high end, proper' methods, myself. Homeschool was great for learning computer tech, biology, literature, etc... but math is something I had trouble learning out of a book.

12-19-2004, 05:38 PM
Was the fellow in NC an idiot savant Aerie?

12-19-2004, 06:08 PM
No, pretty normal(Though very smart) mentation otherwise; I'd peg him in the 150-160 IQ range, maybe a bit higher.

12-20-2004, 07:53 AM
>>Simple addition and subtraction really confuses me some times. Do any of you have that problem?<<

all the damned time!

back when i was taking cal 3, i could do 3rd order derivitives on decent equations mostly in my head, but when it comes to simple adding and subtracting - i need a calculator.

meanwhile, my mom can figure percentages in her head and i just look at her in awe b/c i couldn't make change to save my life!