REPORTING. “Mathematics doesn’t make sense for students…” We went to a private lesson with two high school girls

the important thing
Because of fear or repulsion, mathematics is the bane of many French people. However, Emma* and Laura*, two high school students from Toulouse, feel calm. The reason, according to the young girls: private lessons they take to improve their level.

It is located on Home of science is located on rue Louis Vitet in Toulouse, on the first floor of a building from the 1950s, where Laura and Emma go, on their own initiative, for a weekly private lesson.

Read also:
CASE. Education: Worrying decline in student achievement in mathematics

Two young girls are in their last and first year. Laura chose mathematics as her specialty: “I want to study business. I have to have a good level in mathematics. And that will allow me to have a good rank on the Parcoursup!” The high school student knows well Justine Desbois, her private teacher who has been accompanying her for five years now, and she is brave enough to persist: “It is a fundamental subject, but students are afraid of mathematics. They often give up for fear of being demoted. their Parcoursup folder.” The professor, who also teaches preparatory medicine courses in Toulouse, deplores the gap that exists between the general level in high school and that required by higher education.

Read also:
QUIZ. Take the 4th grade math exams! Will you succeed?

Bring flavor back to the material

In a “home-like” classroom, Laura takes time to go over the least understood concepts from the week’s course with Justine, and then does hands-on exercises. This method allowed the shy young girl to gain confidence. “In the second grade, I had a teacher who questioned my ability to succeed in this discipline. I finished the school year with an average of 9. But with my new teacher who encouraged me in this direction and the private lessons I give, I returned to 15” , he proudly explains.

Emma left the “mathematics” specialty when she reached the first grade. “For fear of failing,” he admits. She only had one class left a week, that of common core. “However, math helps me in physics and SVT, which I kept as majors this year.”

Read also:
INTERVIEW. The level of young French in school: “We are moving towards more concrete mathematics”, promises the mathematician

The goal of Justine Desbois is to ensure a good acquisition of basic concepts, such as fractions. “To see their grades increase sustainably, to give them a taste for math, students need to make time for good methodology and benchmarks.” An opinion shared by Catherine, Emma’s mother: “Taking time to ask questions, to deepen knowledge, can only be done under these conditions, not in a class of 38 students.”

Specific applications

Over the course of an hour, the young girls exchange theory and practice, reinforcing the concepts with concrete everyday examples. The observation that the teacher regularly makes is that for the students “mathematics does not make sense, it is abstract”. Laura’s lesson this week is about “functional boundaries”. So Justine Desbois explains: “The curve you see explains the exponential way in which the function develops. In practice, this could represent a battery charger: initially the battery charges very quickly, then as the battery level increases, the higher load slows down.” Explained in this way, the order of letters and symbols actually takes on a different meaning.

Prepare for graduate studies

For Catherine, the goal is “to return as many points as possible and thus perhaps allow her to follow her high school project, thanks to mastering the specialty with the highest coefficient.” Along with the immediate progress made by the two young ladies, there is also the specter of graduation. Better mastery of mathematical subjects and rigor is, according to them as well as their parents, the key to achieving a better rank on the Parcoursup platform and securing enrollment in the higher education of their choice.

* Names have been changed.

Leave a Comment