I’m being perfectly honest when I say that calculus itself is not very hard. “What?!! Did he just say that?!” Yes, I said it. And it’s true. “But what about
the horror stories? The sheer panic induced when even the word calculus is mentioned?” Well, the horror stories are also
true. I can’t deny it. Calculus classes do indeed cause much pain and suffering, even
tears. “But you just said . . .” I know. It looks
like a contradiction. But it isn’t.
The answer lies entirely in the student’s
preparation. With proper training and
preparation (and a good work ethic), calculus becomes a beautiful, rewarding experience. In fact, it convinced me to become a
mathematician. But without solid preparation, calculus can be a miserable, meaningless exercise in endurance.
Now, what preparation is needed for
a genuinely successful study of calculus?
(“Successful” means a true mastery of the
art, not just a good grade.) Well, just like
any craft, you first need good tools. Your
tools for calculus are arithmetic, algebra,
Cartesian geometry, and trigonometry.
How sharp are they? How comfortable do
they feel in your hand?
In general, students considering a calculus course are reasonably proficient in
basic arithmetic. But I have seen exceptions. I will only say that it’s impossible to
teach calculus to someone who struggles
High School Math
by Brian Fulton
With proper training and preparation (and a good work
ethic), calculus becomes a beautiful, rewarding experience.
Tools of the Trade: