Levels of Understanding
Creatr believes that every time you study, working on problem areas and knowledge gaps from previous years – not just working on homework questions – is the key to deeper understanding and a genuine love of knowledge. Math is learned in layers, and if you’re not understanding concepts at one level, it will be nearly impossible to understand the next layer. I liken mathematical understanding to a pyramid structure, like this:
The implications of this structure are profound. It means that a problem in the foundational layer can cause problems at later levels of development long after you have forgotten your mistakes. It also means you cannot just learn things in an arbitrary order; to learn higher math concepts there is a large body of foundational and secondary skills that you must master first. You might be struggling with an advanced subject like Statistics, Linear Algebra, or Calculus – consider that you might be overlooking a problem area at a lower level.
One of Creatr’s core teaching strategies is to consider the problem from all levels of the pyramid, and construct a learning plan that addresses the current curriculum but also the missing Foundational Skills and Secondary Skills. By the way, this isn’t a new, groundbreaking finding – it’s been known for a very long time that mathematics and science are learned in stages of increasing complexity and subtlety. Students tend to get exposed to the same fundamental ideas at more and more subtle levels as they progress towards high school and eventually college. However, despite our educators best efforts, many students become the unfortunate victims of their educational institution: that is, they are dragged feet first through their education rather than shown how to valiantly carry one’s own torch to light the way.
At Creatr, seeing students learn and grow is the priority. Giving up a systematic curriculum that each student must progress at the same pace, these lessons start at the students own level and work from there to build deeper and more effective understanding. Book an appointment now to see how this radically different approach can change your relationship to math and science and turn you into the genius you know you could be.
A note from Daniel
Many of the students I have seen over the years have missed a key concept or two at the foundational level, and then started to fall further and further behind as a result. They then come to me when they get to Pre-Cal or Calculus and feel totally lost. Almost always, I can trace these issues to missing concepts at a lower level on the pyramid. Over time the problem areas are layered over with new concepts, and wherever there is shaky understanding it causes a deeper gap until the student is thoroughly lost. Like tiny crevices in rock formations that become a little deeper each year, what started out to be a tiny gap in your knowledge can eventually turn in to a sprawling canyon. Instability at a lower level makes Secondary Skills and Higher Math concepts unstable from the start. For this reason, I spend time each session systematically covering topics from previous courses that the student, for one reason or another, failed to master. In this way, I attempt to foster a truly robust understanding of the subject matter that transcends the particular curriculum. The amazing thing is that this works – this really helps students achieve their learning goals.
Another core principle Creatr believes in strongly is that with the proper guidance and inspiration, students should come to regulate their own learning and pursue the development of skills that are most appropriate to their own needs, strengths, weaknesses, and circumstances. This process starts in early childhood and continues until a mature adult emerges, and adult that is capable of regulating their own behavior in a broad range of contexts to achieve all the needs of a well-nourished human personality. As students transition from middle school to high school, college, and beyond, these self-regulatory skills become increasingly important. I have noticed, however, that despite the importance of these skills for higher learning, they are often not taught to young people in traditional educational settings. It is just assumed that these are traits and not skills. It is assumed that somewhere between 5th grade and high school graduation that the person has amazingly equipped themselves with an arsenal of management and meta-cognitive skills. However, the research on this appears clear, self-regulation is a skill that must be learned. While developing humans do appear to have some degree of autonomy, it is also clear that with proper guidance and direction the process of learning self-regulatory skills can be accelerated. Therefore, in addition to covering the required coursework in my tutoring sessions and small classes, I also put an emphasis on the acquisition of self-regulatory skills. Self-regulatory skills include: time management, motivation, social/physical environmental structuring, self-evaluation, and meta-cognition.
Who is Daniel?
Daniel has been a tutor and teacher for students of every skill level for over ten years. He has worked with students of all ages, Kindergarten through older adults. He really loves math, physics, and programming, devoting many hours of his own time to the continued study of Number Theory, Computer Science, and Pure Mathematics. He also has a passion for psychology, coaching, training and personal development, making a habit out of continuing to learn and understand more about the mind and human personality. Daniel is currently studying Indo-Tibetan Mahamudra with advanced meditation teachers, and participates as board member and web developer for the Austin Jung Society. His other projects include building websites and working on a small coding project demonstrating Bayes Theorem in Python.
Role(s) at Creatr
- Lead Curriculum Designer
- Lead Instructor
Who is Matthew?
Matthew Hemenway is an Austin-based teacher, filmmaker, and writer. Raised on a farm in South Dakota and educated in Arizona State’s Film and Media Production program, Hemenway moved to Austin in 2012 where he continues to pursue his work with narrative film. Matthew has created video content for clients ranging from credit unions to travel agents, tech startups to governmental agencies, and feature filmmakers to nonprofits. Matthew plays the violin, enjoys tennis, and is an avid reader. He makes an excellent cup of tea.
Matt’s Role at Creatr
- Test Prep Coach
Core Principles of Test Prep
Every student preparing for the SAT, ACT, GRE, or other standardized test should be familiar with the Four Pillars of Successful Learning. The Four Pillars are fundamental building blocks of any successful study plan, and are applicable to any skill that you want to develop to a higher level. By practicing the Four Pillars of Successful Learning, you will work on the fundamental skills and knowledge required to get a great score on their test and succeed in a higher learning settings. The Four Pillars are:
- Make a study plan and set a specific, measurable goal. Create a reasonable, measurable, and time-bound goal and then make detailed plans to attain that goal.
- Obtain and then practice with high-quality study materials. Acquire a physical copy of the official study guide, or acquire a login for the official online practice materials.
- Develop a sufficient set of optimal study habits and methods. Find some study methods that will work for you.
- Sustain a directed effort over a long period of time. Make learning a long-term habit, and study for at least 12 hours (outside of any other coursework or prep classes).
Be sure to check out my article, How to Study for the SAT for more detailed explanations on the Four Pillars of Successful Learning.