I have spent hours trying to improve my Physics instruction… and to me, this means that I build thought provoking questions that makes students think about the physics they are encountering. I’d rather see a student that can qualitatively interpret a kinematics graph and then apply it to the math, then one that can simply do calculations. It is much more time consuming to teach both, but they understand it much better when we do!
Today I was tutoring another Physics student and found that all the examples brought to me were ones which required math. I asked the student to explain what was happening in the graph so that we could figure out what to calculate. I was met with a completely blank look. I had to take 3/4 of our tutoring session to teach the student what the graphs meant, and then (their words not mine) “The math was a breeze.”
I understand that math has its place in a Physics classroom – but can it be the sole focus of instruction in a PHYSICS class?