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Re: Re: mathematica tutor for NYC high school student

  • To: mathgroup at
  • Subject: [mg100705] Re: [mg100651] Re: mathematica tutor for NYC high school student
  • From: "Nelson-Patel, Kristin" <knp at>
  • Date: Thu, 11 Jun 2009 21:40:31 -0400 (EDT)
  • References: <h0fvja$ra0$> <h0i8gu$j8t$>

Hi :) 

I urge you to consider the value to your son of letting him struggle
on his own a little to identify and obtain the intellectual resources
he needs and wants.  Certainly support and encourage his efforts to
come up with and execute his own creative solutions, but maybe don't
just make it all available to him without his own effort. I see nothing
wrong with getting him a Mathematica license for home to play with (and I
really mean play), but don't get him a tutor.  Let him learn on his own,
design and build his own projects, discover what interests him.

My 2 cents: I went to a very rural public high school where I was one of
two people out of several hundred who were interested and enthusiastic
about physics.  There were no AP courses offered and the school refused to
support advanced or other college level physics, due to lack of interest
even though my friend and I represented more interest than they had had in
years. They did offer some college level English and Math, which I took.
I ran out of science to take by my senior year and desperately wanted to
study astrophysics.  The local and school libraries' technical selections
on the relevant topics were essentially non-existent.  My parents simply
didn't have the resources or options to re-place me somewhere where this
would be easily available, but I don't think they would have or should
have even if they could; they always encouraged me to try to solve my
problems on my own first.  I either had to do something about it on my
own or wait a year to start college.

I decided to design and conduct my own senior year independent study
course on topics in astrophysics.  I got my basic physics teacher to agree
to advise, put together a curriculum proposal, with written reports and
due dates, and pitched it directly to the school board when the guidance
counselors refused to help.  Of course, they couldn't refuse. This simply
had never been done before in my school district. One board member was
so impressed that she offered to get a special drivers license so she'd
be allowed to take me to the regional university for a day once a week
for a couple of months while she took a management course that she was
signed up for anyway, just so I'd have access to the kind of libraries
I'd really need.

Here's the thing; because I wanted this enough to make it happen on my
own, I owned it, I took responsibility for it, I was fully engaged, and
I fully executed it for an entire year; I produced papers and reports
on time, and I was given an award at graduation for having done all of
this. Not to mention the fact that I got to study and learn about what
I really wanted to learn about.

That was almost 20 years ago, and I ended up becoming a systems analyst
rather than an astronomer, but the value of having to work independently
to accomplish what I wanted was priceless. People creating ideas and
products, substantiating them enough to convince others to help, taking
responsibility and carrying them to whatever fruition they'll bear is
what drives human progress.  You only get that by doing it, and you'll
never do this unless you have to.  Teenagers are not too young to have
to learn this.

Thanks for reading. Good luck.


-----Original Message-----
From: Mike [mailto:autodidacter at]
Sent: Wednesday, June 10, 2009 5:35 AM
To: mathgroup at
Subject: [mg100705] [mg100651] Re: mathematica tutor for NYC high school student

On Jun 7, 11:45 pm, "VMCM1905" <VMCM1... at> wrote:
> <hlalv... at> wrote in messagenews:h0fvja$ra0$1 at
> > Hello
> > We are wondering if you can help us with this.
> > We live in Manhattan (NYC) and are seriously considering withdrawing
> > our 15 yr old son (presently in 9th grade) from the school system and
> > give him homeschooling that is creative, adventurous and
> > non-competing.
> 2 out of three is good. He will need some competitiveness, it will help
> drive him.
> The more you son learns, the more confidence he will attain.
> Home schooling is good for some things, but terrible for others.
> Try instead to get your child into a better school district. If money is
> tight or that option is not available, the supplement his education
> yourself.
> Go to a nearby university and ask a professor there if he may audit a
> course. Most professors will be glad to accept him if he will not cause
> trouble.
> > Naturally, for Math we are thinking of Mathematica so all his high
> > school
> > math curriculum can be done visually but with mathematical rigor.
> Depending on the level he is at, shelve Mathematica for a while. Let him
> grind the math by hand. Some explorations are augmented by mathmatica,
> but only in later stages after one has learned the fundamentals.
> You don't want him to be someone who has to "go to the computer" when it
> comes time to integrate and simplify an expression.
> > Question: Do you know some group/program/person in NYC so we can find
> > a
> > Mathematica tutor for our son so he gets excited about the
> > inherent beauty of Math and covers the basic knowledge he needs ?
> Your son needs to attain the exitement of math through his expereince
> with people that he innitiates. Don't rely on others to "get him
> exited."
> The best thing you can do is expose him to math indirectly. Talk with
> him about your experiences with math. Get lots of good PBS and discovery
> channel programs on math and science.
> > He needs to cover Geometry, Trig, Algebra and Calculus at the high
> > school level (grades 9-12).
> > It is a long shot, but I am placed in Architecture and need to look
> > outside my field for guidance. So the web becomes my first stop. At
> > some point I will walk over to Courant Inst and see if they can help.
> > Best regards
> > Prof. H. Lalvani, PhD
> If you are a prof at a university or college, you can have your son
> audit courses.

I agree totally. Homeschooling is something I wish my parents did not
put me through. The social interaction would have been nice (in some
As for auditing classes, that is a great way to learn things!
I had a chance to learn college level algebra by sitting in on a
class. Calculus I and II were done with some books I found in a throw
out bin on campus, but I did take calculus III by sitting in on a
class at a local college.
And odd as it may seem, being inspired about math may come from
unexpected sources.
Mine came from a combination of watching a show called Numb3rs, and
reading Jurassic Park.

Good luck.

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