This fall has definitely involved expanding some of my limits. Specifically, my tutoring limits. It started in October when one of my math students from last year wanted to know if I might be able to tutor her again this year. Usually that is an excellent kind of email to get, but in this case I was rather hesitant because last year I was tutoring her in PreCalc 11, which she needed to graduate from high school, and this year she is in college and taking Finite Mathematics.
The course name was familiar. Eventually I remembered that it was the course that made my sister cry, back in her first year of college. So that was a little daunting. I never took math past high school, myself. I did take Math 12 (honours, even), but I knew when I read the course description that Finite Math was going to involve several entirely new topics for me.
I made sure my student understood that I had never even learned this stuff before, let alone tutored it, and she assured me that she still wanted me to tutor her, so the past couple of months have involved all sorts of things like permutations and combinations, matrices and Markov chains, and the Gauss-Jordan elimination method for solving systems of linear equations. I’ve enjoyed it, because I have a strange mind that finds this sort of thing captivating, but the course definitely covers a lot of tricky material.
My student tells me that she’ll be taking a different kind of math next semester, with topics that will be more familiar to both of us. I admit that this is a relief. At the same time, I’ve been reviewing all the math classes that Camosun offers—there are 2 different classes on math for ship construction and stability! How cool is that!—and halfway wishing I could take all the ones with topics I haven’t studied before. Since I have to choose where to spend my energy, I’ll stick with my music theory classes, but I’m actually really pleased to have been introduced to the topics of Finite Mathematics. (Just don’t tell my sister.)