What Do Maths Tutors Do?
Maths tutors are incredibly commonplace as many students find this core subject challenging as it involves a different way of thinking to many other subjects. A maths tutor's aim, regardless of the level or age group, is to help the student understand the language of numbers. As using numbers to understand the world is a unique way of thinking, a different approach is taken. It is distinctive in that it most effectively taught through the use of questions as the main focus of the lesson, even if the topic is new to the student. Unlike other subjects, such as science, it is difficult to explain concepts or methods outside of specific example questions. By working through questions together, it is possible to simultaneously build confidence as well as the knowledge needed for each topic.
Although the core principles of a maths tutor's craft are the same regardless of the age group, there are also crucial differences. For younger children, it is all about destigmatizing maths as boring or too hard and approaching each question as a puzzle that needs to be solved. Also actively involving students in the question making process and incorporating things they enjoy, such as sports or animals, into lessons, ensures leaps and bounds are made to make maths seem fun and no longer scary.
For GCSE students, tutors tend to take a different approach as GCSE is all about developing a foundation for using maths in the real world; but even more so, it's about providing students with a solid grounding should they want to study maths at a higher level. As well as the basics, topics like algebra, geometry and trigonometry are also added which tend to be more abstract concepts. When teaching GCSE, an essential role of a tutor is to develop a genuine interest from the student in the topic, as well as help the student secure the best grades they can. Although this isn't always possible at GCSE as maths isn't everyone's cup of tea! However, tutors aim to make maths less of a chore as the most improvement stems from outside the work done outside the lesson as practice is vital!
In summary, a maths tutors job is to break down tricky concepts and show them to be compelling, however impossible that seems to the student before they started!
Sophie is a fourth-year medical student at Barts and the London who is also an experienced maths and science tutor for 7+ up to GCSE.