Search

Calculus

I have a Ph.D. in physics and speak calculus daily in my professional life. As a tutor, I liken calculus to parallel parking, or driving a car with a stick shift, or parallel parking in a car with a stick shift -- on a hill. That is, it can seem impossible at first, but any 15-year-old can learn how to do it, and after a fashion it becomes second nature. My teaching strategy for calculus is to focus on pattern recognition in problem solving. Triage is the essential first step in assessing a problem in either differential or integral calculus and they key to picking a successful solution approach. The second step is to develop good habits and rhythms in problem solving. What to write, and where, during the solution of a problem may seem trivial, but a dedication to simple repetitive gestures keeps the solution on track and minimizes errors. Finally, I emphasize that calculus solutions can nearly always be checked, so time permitting, a 100 on the calculus exam is not an unreasonable expectation for students from any discipline.