Course Spotlight Series: Calculus One, always open for enrollment, is led by Professor Jim Fowler of Ohio State University. This article, based on an interview with the instructor, was written by Charlie Chung of Class Central.
“I’m not a math person”. “I’m not great with numbers”. “I hate math”. These sentiments are commonly heard, and many people struggled with math during school (which may explain why the U.S. in the latest international PISA exams, ranked 27th out of 34 OECD countries). But how many students have been lucky enough to have a math teacher that is as passionate about teaching it as Prof. Jim Fowler, in the Department of Mathematics at Ohio State University?
Prof. Fowler’s goal is to transform peoples’ attitude about mathematics: “I really just want people to like math more.” He acknowledges that math can be difficult and requires practice. But it doesn’t have to be the drudgery that many people have experienced:
For a lot of people, their experience in math class has been so focused on drill problems and calculations. They didn’t even think about some of the ideas. Many people could actually do really well in terms of the calculus content, but they’re struggling a lot with the algebraic manipulations, which is primarily what we’re evaluating them on. But there are ways to get people to get attached to the calculus concept first and get them excited. A lot of math is about talking about ideas, evaluating those ideas, and discussing them.