Sharing an Appreciation for the Universal Language that Is Math
Dr. Chung Wong, who teaches math from beginning algebra to upper-level calculus, has the experience to reach both those who struggle with the subject and those who share his passion for mathematics.
When his family moved to the U.S. from Hong Kong so he and his brother could get a better education, he was 11, did not know much English and found school difficult at first. It is that sensitivity he brings to students who struggle with math. For those with an appreciation for the subject, he brings an enthusiasm for the field that is such an essential part of life and used by people around the world.
He notes that studying math is like learning a language. Instead of learning the alphabet, then how to form sentences and next how to write an essay, you learn numbers, then simple equations â€“ such as addition, subtraction, multiplication and division â€“ and next formulas.
â€śMath is not mysterious,â€ť he says. â€śItâ€™s like building a house. First, you set the foundation and move on from there. Math is cumulative. You learn the basics and you build upon that.â€ť
He also likes to stress to his students that they do not need to be perfect, sharing that even the best 3-point shooters in basketball donâ€™t make all their shots.
As an undergraduate at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ), Wong initially planned to earn an engineering degree. Then he took some math courses taught by â€śreally good professorsâ€ť and realized he wanted to go deeper than knowing formulas.
â€śI wanted to understand why formulas work,â€ť he says. He also developed a profound appreciation for how math is central to so many aspects of life. Engineers, scientists, investors, data analysts, computer programmers, supply chain managers and professionals in numerous other fields use it. We also use it when we balance our budget, figure out the tip for the server at a restaurant and in many more aspects of our lives.
He decided he wanted to pursue a career as a professor while serving as a teaching assistant at Drexel University as he worked on his Ph.D. Â â€śI realized I wanted to show people how math is done and I really enjoy that moment when you can tell a student has figured out what you are teaching.â€ť
He also is grateful for the opportunity he had after earning his Ph.D. to teach as a visiting professor at TCNJ. â€śThe experience of being mentored by professors I knew made me more receptive to hearing their feedback on how I could be a better teacher.â€ť
Learning to be a better teacher, he says, is something he experiences with every class he teaches. â€śTeaching is not a fixed thing. Every time you teach a class, you learn something new. I really enjoy that and the opportunity teaching provides to share knowledge.â€ť