I am a math tutor. People come to my house, and I try to awaken them to the thrills of mathematics. It doesn’t always work.
This summer, I have a very active tutoring schedule, two days a week. I tutor from 8:30-3:30 Mondays and Thursdays. Some kids are getting caught up in Algebra I, some are trying to get ahead in Geometry or Algebra II, and others are coming for SAT/ACT prep.
It’s the latter that I will talk about today.
A few weeks ago, I met with a girl for the first time, to try to get her ready for that weekend’s SAT II tests. I was explaining to her that most problems on the SAT have more to do with logic and less to do with math than one might expect. So you have to approach each problem with that in mind — watching both the question and the multiple choice answers for clues on how to get the answer that the test creators were looking for. And probably my very best tip to kids is to STOP working the problem when they know that their answer is correct — just because every math teacher and class you have ever had has required that you finish a problem doesn’t mean you have to now. If you KNOW that the last digit of the answer is 5, and there is only ONE choice in the answers that HAS a last digit of five, QUIT. Black in the answer on your answer sheet, and move on to the next question. That is probably the very hardest habit to break for most kids… They have been trained to finish their multiplication and work out each and every problem completely. But the SAT rewards people that quit when they know that their answer is the right one, whether or not they actually finished the math involved.
But I digress.
Anyway, I had just told Tutoring Student #507 that she needed to sharpen her logic skills in order to attack problems of the type that we were working on. She was working through a problem, doing really well, when the dogs decided to bark at a squirrel or something. On impulse, I sharply said, “LOGIC!” and my poor student jumped.
Logic, the dog, skulked away and stopped barking at the happenings outdoors. #507 looked down at her test booklet in horror. I realized how awful that must have seemed almost instantaneously, and said, “Oh, gosh, no, I’m sorry — the dog’s NAME is ‘Logic,’ see, I wasn’t fussing at you at all, you’re doing great! Keep going — you’re on the right track.”
After the initial shock and awkwardness, we had a good laugh and I’m sure she told her mother about THAT one…
And now I’ll remember that I need to preface my discussions about how one must use logic to do these problems with “oh, and by the way, my dog’s name is Logic so if he barks I’m probably going to fuss at him… Don’t think I’m fussing at you…”
Really, it was pretty funny. But I felt really bad because I know I scared #507 with that admonition. Tee hee… “Mommmmmm, the tutor yelllllled at meeeeeeee…..”