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Physics anxiety

For many students, Physics is the first science course that incorporates the necessary skill of basic algebra. This, combined with all the new terms, abbreviations, units, and symbols, can make Physics seem like some kind of complex magic meant only for the elite to comprehend. (It's most troubling when I witness people in the TEACHING profession convey this same attitude.) At the point that (teenage) students assume this opinion, they find it easy to tune out and avoid the subject until their first progress/grade report indicates trouble.

The good news is that I've been able to get students back up to speed on the basics that turned them off in the first place. As long as they have a handle on basic math, it's easy to show even the most Physics-averse student that all the terms, symbols, and abbreviations is just a form of shorthand writing. To that point, learning Physics resembles learning a foreign language: not complicated, just unfamiliar. Get past the discomfort of unfamiliarity, and the rest starts to fall into place.