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My Last Math Student (For Now)
The Education Wars Part 16
Up until sometime in 2020, I still spent four to six hours a week working with avid math students. While teaching was no longer my primary professional, I feel that mentoring of all kinds is of crucial importance to society. And so long as there is an area or two where I enjoy the process, and my talents are valuable, I'll participate.
But I put teaching aside, at least for now, in order to focus on the plandemonium because I believe that there are few more important events in all of history.
I did continue working with my very "last student" whom I worked with for four years through April of 2021. While I had already given up working with other students, and turned down further requests, I had begun working with this student when he was a rising eighth grader just discovering that he enjoyed digging deeper into mathematics. Up until that time, he had never had any real guidance beyond school classes, and within a few weeks he climbed up to finish just inside the top 20 at the Texas Mathcounts competition (Texas is tough—more national champions than any other state).
After closing my last school in 2016, I continued to work privately with students. It wasn't a plan and hardly felt like a job, but I kept getting calls and emails from parents requesting private mentoring. At times, I even coached graduate students (including at Harvard) and corporate CEOs. Since I was transitioning away from education as a full time career, I took only the students whom I felt needed something that wasn't going to be easy for them to find. These were mostly students who could leverage any guidance I gave them, and I never took students whose direction was more their parents' than their own. If you're in tune with the student, that's easy to detect. They just start emailing you during their free time asking for guidance on the problems they haven't figured out how to model correctly. This one is from my last math student 18 or so months ago while he was learning how to apply Bayes theorem to problems with tricky setups:
As I shed students in 2020 and 2021, I kept working with my last student because he clearly enjoyed both the work and the play involved in studying mathematics more deeply, and he showed an honest moral sense of how his work could fit into building a better world. We continued to work right up until the 2021 USA Mathematical Olympiad (he was one of the 270ish qualifiers), which I talked a little about here.
Over the years, I've received hundreds of letters from former students. I don't think I've shared any of them publicly, but I'm going to share this one under the fold. One of my hopes is to encourage people to understand the impact of a combination of good basic parenting and good educational guidance (of any type, and especially when it matches a young person's interests).
A Letter From My Last Student
This student could very easily have been discouraged by a parent or a lazy school system. Instead, he is off working energetically in one of the world's most rigorous STEM programs. And while he could be easily labeled a "genius" in a way that dismisses the change in culture and attitude that came along with guidance, it is the case that the potential is there for all students to perform much better at building from the basics, whether with STEM or any other skill building pursuit. Whatever problems we take on while the world revolves chaotically as it does now is, "Why doesn't everybody know this is possible?"