Math at Putney

This is something that I’ve written about a year ago. I would like to share this with you, and to remind myself of why I decided to start the math club.

Before I came to study at Putney, I heard from my friends in a canoe tripping camp that it’s not cool to show that you love math in American schools. So when I came, I tried not to say so. To my surprise, people at Putney don’t feel that way. They treat you like equals no matter what you like, math or sports or instruments. Students enjoying math are not inferior. Unlike in Beijing, they are not superior either. I like this very much!

Putney also supports math through it’s math classes. Before I came here, I have never even thought about the possibility learning calculus at 10th grade, which I am doing now. The school gives you freedom in choosing the level of math course that suits your ability. I take my calculus class with mostly seniors, and it is a common phenomenon at Putney. In class, the teacher will also give some individual work. For example, when you did well on an exam, but the rest of the class didn’t, the teacher would give you a math related book to read on while the others go over the problems. There’s a lot of individual help. There are also opportunities to explore with math. Instead of final exams, we have project weeks when you can choose whatever topic you like, such as math, to work on. One student even built a tesla coil thing using physics.

Putney also gives you opportunities to take the lead in things you enjoy. When I came, I felt that we need a place for math lovers to get together, so I thought I’d start a math club. My advisor and math teachers are very supportive. I sent out emails to find students with similar thoughts, but unfortunately it was not very successful.  After a while, I made a presentation in front of the whole school, and this time, it worked!  Several students joined and we started to organize school math activities. We even set up a math club blog! I also use math to help others when a math teacher took me to help him do volunteering work by coaching the nearby public school students in math olympiad.  I feel that Putney gives me opportunities to hone my skills in leadership and it is great.

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