Tutoring by a PhD -- math, physics, programming, $23 to $46/hour

Posted
Spruce Grove, AB T7X0G5(View Map)

Description

I have updated this ad to include much more details, but if you don't feel like reading the whole "towel" right now, then here is, in a nutshell, what I can do for you.

I can be your tutor of math (including computational science), physics and programming in Edmonton and area.

I teach high school physics (Physics 20-30) and both undergraduate and graduate University physics courses, mathematics: grade 6 and up and undergraduate University courses. Programming: C/C++, C#, Java, Matlab, Mathematica.

Now, if you are interested, read on. First, a few words about my education and experience (what level of teaching you can expect).

I was awarded my first academic degree -- MSc (UNESCO 6A) in Theoretical Astrophysics -- by Saint Petersburg State University. In full accordance with the Russian/Soviet (actually, perhaps, German) traditions in scientific education, SPbSU Faculty of Mathematics and Mechanics teaches you all the math an astrophysicist would ever need in principle, plus twice as much -- for the case of a nuclear war. And then a few more things, just when a student thinks it's finally over. :-)

My second degree was PhD in Physics awarded by the University of Alberta. Although it was a pure, classical research degree, it did involve taking additional courses of advanced physics -- in order to meet the formal degree requirements set by the UofA. Over the course of my PhD program I was consecutively awarded two scholarships by the University of Alberta, the second one being a permanent 3 year-long Golden Bell Jar Scholarship for academic achievements. My research was focusing on the physical processes occurring in the interior of binary stars (including the role they play in gravitational waves detection).

Thus, the primary areas of my competence are mathematics and physics, including, inevitably, a branch of mathematics called computational science, as the latter is what most research in modern astrophysics relies on.

Programming skills are a "side effect", if you will, -- programming is, essentially, a tool to apply the abstract knowledge of computational science to real, e.g., astrophysical computations. However, over the years spent for education and in between the degrees, I had to work as an industrial C++ software engineer to support myself and my family. In part that work also had astrophysical applications, e.g., I spent roughly 3 years working as an engineer in Pulkovo Observatory designing imaging equipment and creating software for one of the International Space Station projects.

Besides purely scientific interests I have passions, one of them being spreading the knowledge, teaching. Teaching has long been an essential part of my life, I enjoy it and those who I teach benefit from it, -- it's been literally no less rewarding than doing science.

You might think I exaggerate things a little, but I am not, I am not! Sometimes a kid or an adult you teach (or, as it happens, just talk to over a coffee) gets a simple yet serious explanation of a well-known fact from you, e.g., of why there's absolutely no way the square root of two could be a fraction, no matter how badly it wants to be one, -- not until two times two is four, at least; or why a normal flat household mirror flips the image horizontally rather than vertically, or something else they were told was so, but never explained why in a Canadian school... And suddenly, even that miniscule chunk of new knowledge gets them excited, even that little piece of the puzzle suddenly "fits & clicks", so to say, in their head, and makes them realize -- even if just for an instant -- how in fact simple to the bones and great is physics, and/or how strong and beautiful in all its strictness and infinitness is math -- the subjects they hated so much in class. Then, at times, they start to ask -- thoughtful! -- questions that might not even have good answers yet, -- you almost live for these moments; enough said.

I have been doing both group and individual tutoring in physics and math since late 2005. From 2012 to 2016 I was also teaching in the University of Alberta, and since 2016 I made private consulting and tutoring of both kids and adults my primary occupation, my little sole proprietorship, if you will, legally speaking. By the way, high school tutoring is a GST exempt in Canada.

Teaching science or math means going from the general picture to the details, and not the other way around, as it's done in the local high schools. Yes, simply changing that order does help simple things made complicated by Canadian high school programs, including IB, become what they are -- simple things, but the latter is not the primary reason why my students realize they have been underestimating their academic potential.

What's the main reason then? Let me characterize in brief how the fundamental subjects, i.e., math and physics (the latter being, essentially, a special kind of math) are taught in elite specialized schools of the European countries that have been traditionally, for centiries, focused on hard science, like Germany, Russia or France.

The basic idea of fundamental science has always been "know a little -- understand a lot". The entire modern physics, say, would fit in a half of a Letter-sized sheet of paper. Memorizing high school math, and especially physics, as a set of unrelated formulae and step-by-step instructions on how to isolate the quantity a problem asks for is what hinders the progress for the absolute majority of Canadian high schoolers and University students I come across.

Every year I see students, unable to decide, for instance, which of the 4-5 kinematic formulae, given to them by their teacher, is the one they should use to solve a problem. However, in essense, there is not much to think about, because there exists just 1 (one!) formula in that particular unit. Those 4-5 formulae sure do look different to a person not familiar with the general picture, but in fact, not only are they merely implications of that single one, but also they are absolutely non-essential to solve any of the problems.

The teacher, of course, gave an (incomplete) set of instructions in class on how to apply each of the formulae to various problems, bit kids just don't remember that "recipe book". And even if they do remember it, facing a slightly reformulated problem on an exam will leave them stranded -- out of suitable memorized algorithms, they will have "no clue" on how to proceed. The latter quoted expression is how boys and girls themselves describe the situation, I hear that same experession over and over every year :-).

No wonder that it is unbelievably common to get a call from a student's parent asking to help their child who is *struggling* with Math 30-2, say. You schedule the first session and meet the family only to see a curious, fast learning kid with... a mind-bendingly, insanely long sequence of failed and/or barely passed quizzes and exams. A sequence that just hasn't been going to end. But it is -- you think to yourself with confidence and joy -- it finally is!

I hope you understand at this point, why I enjoy teaching so much -- it makes people so much "happier", and the latter makes me feel useful, and also happy. I don't make a lot of money by teaching, not at all, -- and I would even do it entirely for free if I did not have to support the loved ones and if not the monthly bills that I have to pay like groceries, fuel, insurance, mortgage, etc.

For consulting and tutoring I charge between $22.50 and $46.00 per hour, depending on multiple factors, such as:

-- student's attitude (the main factor!); -- the gravity of their educational disaster :-) , -- financial challenges their family might be facing, -- date and time of the sessions: e.g., I charge less during national holidays and outside of the peak hours, i.e., late afternoons and evenings, -- the complexity of the subject being taught, -- whether a customer would be able to find another person in the area to get help on the subject, etc.

Feel free to contact me: my phone number is 587-879-6747. Alternatively, you could send me a message through Kijiji (the form on the right) or by e-mail: admin@apmel.com

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