Meeting my newest student yesterday turned out to be a fascinating experience. Most people come to me out of necessity. This one was motivated by a raw youthful enthusiasm for physics. It is not uncommon for people of all ages to be intrigued by those computer graphics laden “gee whiz” TV shows about the marvels of modern physics but this young teen could see far enough beyond the qualitative to seek the quantitative. He clearly understood that a deeper appreciation would require a knowledge of mathematics far beyond what he was being taught in the 8th grade. The best part was that he is willing to work at it.
Earlier in the day, just as I was finishing up with a calculus student, a man about the same age as me, who had been sitting at the same library table, asked me if I was a private tutor. That led to a brief explanation of how he had become fascinated with physics but was struggling to learn the required mathematics on his own. He asked for my business card so I hope he contacts me again. Imagine helping two people, decades apart in age, who share the same interest and motivation.
When I speak of mathematics and physics as subjects to be studied for simple personal satisfaction, most people think I am being sarcastic. Having met two kindred spirits on the same day, I now feel slightly vindicated.