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English vs Math: The State of the Academic Detante



The academic landscape is littered with divides.  High school sees people lumped into ” jocks,” ” band geeks,” ” nerds,” and myriad of other groups.  These labels eventually fade, since we have to take classes, there and beyond, in college and we get recategorized, as “English People” or “Math People” (Ignoring, of course, the people like me, who want to divorce themselves from those categories and make their own, like “Computer Science Person”).  Labels make it convenient to understand many things, but experience tells me these labels of “English” and “Math Person” are fundamentally misplaced.


English vs. Math

Those two labels – “English Person” and “Math Person” – are where this “academic detante” lies.  Each extols its virtues, argues the inferiority of the other, and generally refuses to budge on its stance.  Each side is caught at this impasse, amassing people, in the hopes of trying to find that final coffin nail for the other side’s stance.  I, myself, used to sit on the Math Person side, until I started considering myself one of the aforementioned “Computer Science People.”

Then, I saw the truth:

There are no “Math People,” and there are no “English People.”


A Teacher’s Influence

These categories sit on a much deeper foundation, where the real divide is – we can call them “Got-It” and “Not-It”.  If you are a “Got-It,” you had a teacher that presented the material in a way that made sense; if you are a english teachers“Not-It”, then… you didn’t. “English people” tend to be whose English teachers presented material in an interesting, understandable way.  The same is true for “Math people” and their Math instructors.

The ramifications here do a lot to explain why tutoring can be so math funnysuccessful.  School teachers are in a difficult position, having to convey
material to upwards of thirty students with different (sometimes radically so) learning styles.  On the other hand, private tutoring means the instruction is tailored specifically to the needs of the child with whom we are working.  This is why our slogan is “We Teach The Way You Learn” – the most effective way for anyone to learn is in their learning style, and it is ideal is to have the instructor both be aware of a student’s learning style and to adapt to it.

multiple intelligence


Why Do We Label Ourselves?


The impulse, still, is to keep these distinctions of “Math” and “English,” of course.  These are the more obvious lines to draw in the sand, because they are reinforced by our classes and grades – we see our performance in these disciplines boiled down to a letter, telling only how well or poorly we did.  We get neither details about the core of the issues, nor specifics about how to improve, and are conscripted to the sides of the academic Civil War, Math versus English.  We take up our literary and formulaic arms, not pausing to realize that English and Math are inextricably linked; there are specific domains of Math (graph theory) that, among other things, model English, and these ideas cannot be communicated without proper command of the English language.

Crossing the Divide

you got it dude.jpgUntil we change the way the divide is perceived – remove the “Math” and “English” split, to replace it with “Got-It” and “Not-It” (perhaps with better names) – we are going to perpetuate a system that closes students’ minds to topics before they think to be open to the material.  We all have the potential to be English people, and we all have the potential to be Math people.  We just need someone to convey the material in the way it makes sense to us, for whichever subject we may be learning.

… except for History.  I have no explanation for how those History People can do it.

Oxford Tutoring Though: I’d say this guy writes pretty well for being a computer science person…

Jason Orens: Jason, a Math and Computer Science Instructor, has been tutoring with Oxford Tutoring for over nine years.  Utilizing the student’s existing knowledge and a touch of humor, Jason strives to remove students mental barriers between themselves and the difficult, technical materials.  He combines his years of tutoring experience and expertise in the fields of Math and Computer Science to give his students the tools they need to succeed in these challenging classes.



Oxford Tutoring specializes in K-12 tutoring in English, mathematics, science and test preparation. We provide skill building and homework help in private, one-on-one sessions coordinated with our student’s classroom programs, but focused on the way in which each student learns. Working to better each student’s academic success, Oxford Tutoring personalizes our tutoring approach to best meet the education needs of our students.

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