My year 11 student is not sure if he wants to do maths next year even though he got 80% in his exam, is there anything I can do to encourage him? Should I get involved in the decision?
A lot of senior students will question whether or not they want to do mathematics for their final exams.
In your capacity as a tutor, this is a great opportunity to provide valuable advice and counsel to the student. Obviously, having done mathematics yourself you are likely to be a proponent. However, rather than just supporting the decision to continue with maths you can help the student evaluate the situation more clearly since you have a lot more knowledge in this matter than the student. Consider the following likely concerns:
- Why are they considering dropping maths in the first place?
- Is the student worried about how much work it will be? Are they capable enough? Do you think it will be hard for them?
- How much effort did it actually take to get 80% in year 11; how much more effort will be required in year 12. What is the difference between year 11 and year 12 maths.
- Do they need maths for university or anything else in their future? Explain how maths knowledge/thinking helps in your daily life.
- Are they being pressured to do maths by their parents? Is their reluctance due to being forced into doing math?
It may also be a good idea to discuss this matter with the parents. Usually parents do have some say in their child’s subject choices. They may also have useful insights to explain why there is even a question about maths in the first place.
After understanding the situation from the student and/or parents you may wish to give your feedback in regard to:
- The student’s capabilities and what this means in terms of time commitment required for maths in year 12.
- Why you think the student should/shouldn’t continue with maths.
- Anything you can do to help them make this decision?
- Anything you think should be done differently or anything that can be improved should the student decide to continue with maths. How you will be able to help.
Overall, rather than looking to encourage the student, aim to understand the student and offer whatever advice you feel is relevant and useful. When a situation like this is approached professionally, both the student and parents usually appreciate tutor involvement.