Algebra IS Necessary

I believe we can all agree that perseverance and confidence play a significant role in success.  No matter what example of success we come up with, we can safely say that confidence and perseverance played a key role.  For instance, confidence is built with each win we achieve, no matter how small.  However, we aren’t perfect, so we cannot count on perfect records and thus must persevere through the inevitable failures.  Taken together, confidence and perseverance are essential to any subsequent success.

A few weeks ago, I read an article in the New York Times Sunday Review entitled, “Is Algebra Necessary?”  The author, Andrew Hacker, suggested that the math requirements in our high schools and colleges are a leading contributor to high school and college drop out rates.  According to Hacker, “making math mandatory prevents us from discovering and developing young talent.”  He also goes on to suggest that new classes should emerge addressing what he terms “citizen statistics.”  These courses would cover topics such as the Consumer Price Index, and help “familiarize students with the kind of numbers that describe and delineate our personal and public lives.”

I highly agree with his idea and believe there is a place for a course on citizen statistics, however, within a curriculum that covers Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, and other advanced courses.  In fact, I believe Hacker’s heart is in the right place.  He ultimately wants more students to succeed in school and subsequently in their lives.  I too want the same thing as I am sure does every educator.  The difference is that I believe there is still a place for a solid math education and we need to consider its benefits before we eliminate it.

In the next few paragraphs, I am going to address specific comments made by Mr. Hacker.  I will then close by coming full circle on my original thesis that confidence and perseverance are critical to success. Continue reading

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Are College Freshmen Prepared?

Something needs to change in the way we prepare students.  This wasn’t always a problem so I do not believe teachers are to blame.  Perhaps “how” we prepare students needs to change.  The collegiate landscape is very different today and the real-world is radically different.  Problem solvers are what we need.  We can address this with elementary and high school students starting right now to make sure they are prepared to succeed in college and beyond.

This is Why I Love Coaching Students

A couple of days ago, I asked a former student to provide me with feedback that I could share with potential clients.  I was really only expecting a paragraph or so, but what came back was so much better.  Ryan took the time to write me a very thorough assessment of his time working with me.  Reading through his comments and how our work together culminated into a successful first semester in college is the reason why I love helping students.  Thank you for taking the time to write this, Ryan!  Have a great Spring 2012 semester!

The following is the full copy of the note he sent to me:

To Potential Studee-Lounge Clients,

My name is Ryan and I am a former client of Roger Osorio at Studee-Lounge. I am currently a freshman at the University of Missouri. I started using Roger as an academic coach when I needed help in subjects such as Algebra, Trigonometry, Chemistry and really anything I had questions with.

I had never used a tutor before this and it seemed a bit unorthodox for me to need help, but all in all I DID. We met at locations such as Barnes & Noble or Starbucks, something public and relaxing. At first I felt like it would be awkward and I was somewhat unsure of working with an academic coach, but after meeting Roger I found myself in a very relaxed and helpful environment. He came off strikingly intelligent by opening up any section in my books and scanning it; he would either explain the topic first if I had no clue how to do it or let me start if I felt comfortable with the problem.  If I was stuck he would intervene and help me out, letting me then finish the problem by myself. Roger isn’t a guy that will just let you get stuck, get angry, quit and then give you the answer. He would remain very calm, positive, helpful and extremely reinforcing. Continue reading