The Golf Analogy to the Classroom
Picture all of mathematics as the world of golf. (No, I don’t golf – it’s just an analogy.)
My role as teacher is that of the resident golf pro. I’ve struggled with and mastered this golf course and am available to help you master it as well. (I’m also the golf pro for other courses that you may have “played” in the past, or might in the future.)
For each of the holes (chapters, units) I will lay out for you the best shots and how to play the hard lies, like when the going gets “rough.” I’ll help you avoid the traps and hazards on your quest for understanding. I’ll also keep score.
Your role as student is to come prepared with some basic understanding (hit the ball with the big end of the club) and a willingness to be taught. Remember, those who “know it all” rarely do. Remember also that it is you who are playing the course, not me. You will be struggling with understanding, putting in the practice (homework) and reaping the rewards of your efforts.
Like golf, math requires skill. Skill is something that is learned (unlike talent, which you were given at birth), and is something that improves with directed and correct practice.
The analogy continues in the scoring (grading) of your “game.” Let’s say that your goal is to reach par. If your skill base is good then it will be easier to make par, or go under par (do better) than it will if you are not actually prepared for the course.
On grading, think of this. If you go over par frequently (do poorly), what must you do in order to get back to par? You must birdie a lot, i.e. do better than par just to get back to average. Go too far over par and there will not be enough ‘holes’ remaining for you to recover, even if you shoot holes in one! The course is limited to 18 holes (weeks), then it’s over.
Some people are better golfers than others. There will always be someone better and always someone worse. Your score does not depend on them, only on your performance. Concentrate on your game, not someone else’s. Keep a positive attitude, and always try to birdie. If you fall short, you might still make par.
Listen to the golf pro. Listen also to the caddie and the other players. Pool together all of the advice, then make your play. Don’t argue your score with the scorekeeper, either. The true score is not a debate, and you both know how you truly did.