Sister Kao’s Lesson－How to Learn Calculus Efficiently

Sister Kao’s Lesson

－How to Learn Calculus Efficiently

【Introduction】

Every semester, NTHU offers more than 15 courses of calculus which is one of the compulsory subjects for those science, technology, economics, and finance majors. Speaking of calculus, the first person coming to NTHU students’ mind is Prof. Shu-Jung Kao, also known as “Sister Kao”.

Prof. Kao is famous for her conscientious teaching style. She always starts with the concept followed by details of definitions and principles. When introducing a new principle, she will ask her students to utilize the previously learnt principles to prove it, and then solve a related question. These well-regulated steps link one by one tightly. To ensure her students to follow up, Prof. Kao addresses new ideas and reviews old concepts simultaneously. Besides, her conscientious teaching style also obviously reflects on the exams. She believes those who can tell right and wrong are qualified for completion of strict logic training. Meanwhile, Prof. Kao puts emphasis on question-solving ability, and she, therefore, always kindly reminds her students of correct learning attitude and means, which benefits her students greatly.

Until now, calculus is also a crisis for most of the students. Thus, the current issue of the e-paper reports the interview of the serious and earnest professor, Prof. Kao, who will share the efficient method of calculus learning.

【The Idea of Learning from Prof. Kao】

Prof. Kao thinks the definition of math comes first before discussion of calculus and said, “I think math is a created game of which rule is definition and principle. If one wants to study math, he needs to understand the rule and obey it. That’s why I always emphasize understanding and memorizing the definition. Unless you are a rule creator or theory establisher, you must know how math was established and how to use it before you really utilize it. Also, calculus is not an exception.”

Then, Prof. Kao shared the tips of taking note and said, “In class, you have to record the illustration of the theory as completely as you can. The beauty of words doesn’t matter if you can read. Don’t ignore the importance of note and think you just need to read the text book because teachers don’t translate the content of the text book but explain the definition and math. Although books deliver knowledge, understanding words doesn’t means understanding knowledge. In other words, English majors can read every word in a calculus text book, but do they really understand calculus? As a result, take note with every single word to bring teachers’ knowledge home. And review the lesson with your note. After you are adept in the lesson, make your own brief, which is the authentic fruit of your learning.”

Besides, Prof. Kao mentioned a phenomenon that students always selectively take note which they think important. However, she said, “Learning is irrelevant to individual thought. Definition and principle are well-regulated rule not allowing to be added personal aspect. If you are learning what you think important but not what really important, you are breaking the rule of game. Studying is not the way like this.”

Some students think they can learn effectively by tons of exercises of questions. Prof. Kao refuted, “All exercises are akin to reading comprehension, and the answers are in the articles and teachers’ words. You must understand the articles of reading comprehension and teachers’ words in order to answer the questions correctly. You cannot speculate the content of articles by questions, can you? Speculating the content by questions is the situation of blind men and an elephant. You may get some pieces of the information, but you cannot see the whole picture. Just like the aforementioned idea, if you want to obey the rule, you have to know the rule. When you are asked what the person in the passage thinks, you should not answer what you think. So you have to understand what your text book teaches, which you use to answer questions.”

Nowadays, many college students are confused with the question: why should I learn a subject I would never use, like calculus? In the end of our interview, Prof. Kao answered, “I would say, strictly speaking, college education focuses on basic lessons to develop students’ capacity of problem-solving and provide experience to solve problems. When you involve in business or graduate study in the future, companies, professors, or you will also find the problems to solve, which is just another more concrete subject. As you encounter problems, you will not feel tough because college lets you possess required skill and experience.”

【Conclusion】

With Prof. Kao’s suggestion, do you realize the key to learning “calculus” and “learning” more? Are you prepared to re-examine your learning method? Maybe it is dark time for you to learn calculus and any other subjects, but just as what Prof. Kao said, you are not only learning knowledge but also developing problem-solving ability in college. With positive attitude and correct method, you can gain knowledge, experience, and problem-solving ability in basic classes through the challenge in college. Prof. Kao’s course will let you get through your calculus and a variety of “crises”.