Calculus, algebra and statistics are not the friendliest of words to the math wary, especially students, and their parents, in the turmoil of NCEA. However help is now at hand.
Local retired teacher, Jim Fountain, is offering free tuition for anyone who finds themselves at a loss when it comes to the world of mathematics.
“Math does seem to be the subject that gives the most problems,” he says. “In the senior years, kids generally become more serious, they realise NCEA is near and they can’t always get the support they need. Not all parents can help with calculus and algebra… they also struggle and need a hand to support their kids.”
Although Fountain’s tuition is generally aimed for senior students he says younger children struggling to understand the basics of math are also welcome.
Inspiration for the idea came after Fountain watched a recent news bulletin highlighting students struggling with NCEA levels. Although he did not give the story a lot of conscious thought, Fountain’s subconscious obviously did, forming the concept while he slept.
“It seemed to come out of the blue – I just woke up one morning with the thought of offering my services,” he says. “It just seems to be part of Mangawhai society, everyone seems to help, everybody volunteers.”
Originally from London, Fountain began his training in the 60s and initially set out to become a PE teacher. However, his career was destined to not end up on the sports field but primarily in the classrooms of England, South Africa and New Zealand teaching a range of subjects including economics, French, history, geography and over 17 years of senior math at Wanganui High.
“I’ve always liked and been good at math… it’s logical and I like the problem solving element,” the self-confessed jack-of-all-trades says, who dabbles in building, stone carving, likes to ‘throw a pot on the wheel’ and is also an accomplished sailor.
Fountain is aware of the prevalent notion of ‘when am I ever going to use it’ in regards to the more complicated mathematical sums like algebra and calculus.
“However, math appears everywhere in everyday activities,” he says. “And I like to introduce kids to things they’re not going to find themselves, to broaden their mindset.”
Jim Fountain will be at the Mangawhai Club, 5.30–6.30pm every Monday or alternately people can contact him via email to arrange a convenient time to meet.
For Year 13 students, please email Jim at email@example.com beforehand with particular math problems allowing time for research.
SOLUTIONS: Volunteer Jim Fountain lends a hand in a variety of roles including being an advisor at the Information Centre and says the Mangawhai spirit of helping out inspires him.
ARTICLE & PHOTO/Julia Wade