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How to Find a Good Calculus Tutor

Aug 17, 2007
As more and more attention is paid to mathematical education, calculus, which was once only taught to the most mathematically inclined high school students, is quickly becoming a staple of high school mathematics education. If your student is having a difficult time making the transition to calculus based mathematics, it might be a good idea to consider hiring a calculus tutor to give your student a little extra guidance and attention.

Let's face it--calculus is a pretty hard subject for any student to learn. While every form of mathematics that is taught prior to calculus has been known for thousands of years, calculus itself was not developed until the seventeenth century. This shows just how much of a leap there is between pre-calculus mathematics and calculus.

Many students can find themselves quickly overwhelmed when they start learning calculus. The subject requires a total change in the way that one views numbers and the way they interact. Calculus introduces such concepts as limits (numbers that approach infinitely closely to but never quite reach some value), derivatives (the instantaneous rate of change of a function), integrals (the opposite of the derivative), infinities, and other concepts that can stretch even the most agile of minds.

This puts the calculus tutor in a very precarious situation--not only must he or she be able to communicate with the student regarding the intricacies of the mechanics of calculus, but the calculus tutor must also be able to help the calculus student overcome the conceptual difficulties that are part and parcel of the early learning of calculus.

When evaluating a prospective calculus tutor, you must inquire about the level of calculus learning that he or she possesses. It is almost impossible for someone who has only had one calculus course to fully appreciate the subtlety of the subject and be able to present it in a manner that is easily digestible.

Therefore, a good calculus tutor should have a university degree in either mathematics or the physical sciences, as these are typically the only students who learn calculus to a high enough level to be able to communicate it fully. As with all types of tutoring, a calculus tutor must be a skilled communicator. Even the most mathematically gifted person makes a lousy calculus tutor if he or she is unable to communicate effectively.

It is a good idea to schedule a few introductory tutoring sessions where you sit in with your child and the calculus tutor so that you can observe how they interact and can make certain that the calculus tutor is able to interact with your student in a way that ensures that your student will benefit from the sessions.

A good calculus tutor must have a high level of proficiency in advanced mathematics and must also be a skilled and effective communicator. This combination of requirements means that it can be difficult indeed to find the right calculus tutor. However, if your student is having difficulties, the search can be well worth the effort.
About the Author
Jane Saeman runs an In-Home Tutoring service called Aim High Tutors. Find out about how to help your student reach their full potential at http://www.aimhightutors.com/blog
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