When 2,006 students in 2017 were asked by the Fordham Institute what their least favorite subject was, the most popular answer was math—and it wasn’t a close race.
However, one Dreyfoos student is trying to change that narrative and show students what math is really about.
Band senior Connor Watson created his own educational YouTube channel to not only help students do better in school, but also to emphasize the importance of math in real life.
“My goal is to be able to get the individual student to be able to explain it in a way that they can grasp,” Watson said. “Maybe what they’re not getting in their math class they can sort of grasp a little more [on the channel] and not just be able to pass their test, but to be able to get it on another level.”
While these videos can be helpful for those struggling in math in general, they are especially useful for those having difficulty with precalculus in Palm Beach County.
“He’s creating [the videos] so that it fits what the county tells me to teach,” said math teacher Lisa Holland, Watson’s former precalculus teacher. “He uses these pieces out of the precalculus book that we use because sometimes kids try to go to YouTube and Khan Academy and all this stuff, and they really don’t search the correct thing.”
Modeling the structure of his videos on the school’s precalculus textbook makes it easier for students to know what to look for, especially if they don’t understand the math concepts they’re learning in class.
“It’s real hard to go to the exact math lesson that you need to seek, but Connor [ uses directions from the text], so kids should be able to follow it,” Mrs. Holland said.
In Watson’s daily life, many students like vocal senior and “math buddy” vocal senior Ben Myers believe that the reason why he is good at teaching others is apparent in his personality.
“Once you get to know him, he’s pretty funny, especially if you understand his jokes and you can tell jokes at the same level,” Myers said. “He has a wealth of knowledge. You can ask him any question and he’ll know the answer and be able to teach it to you. He’s just a relatable guy.”
On that note, Watson isn’t as academically far apart from his fellow students as some may think. Although he’s extraordinary at math, he believes that others fail to recognize some of his “struggles” in other fields.
“A lot of people miss [the fact] that I’ve failed an English class before,” Watson said. “I struggle a lot with memorizing history. I struggled with those things, and a lot of people, you know, they have deficits and they have things that they’re good at. And my thing happens to be math, but that doesn’t make me necessarily better than someone else.”
Despite being a new venture, this is not Watson’s first time making an impact on other people. His friends and teachers have remarked that the enthusiasm and drive they see in him is unmatched.
“When I listen to his explanations, I’m just amazed at how clear [they are], and not only that—he will bring up other things to get into the conversation to expand on what the kid really needs help with,” Mrs. Holland said. “It’s always very, very helpful. He can just talk mathematics.”
Though his channel is only a month old, Watson has massive aspirations for what it could become in the future.
“My ultimate goal is to be able to have some kind of difference worldwide. There are channels, like the biggest: Khan Academy,” Watson said. They [have] helped millions and millions of kids from it. It’s absolutely incredible. My goal is to be able to not just help the one on one, but to help everyone worldwide.”
In the future, Connor hopes to change the perspective of math for individuals and make his mark on the world.
“I guess sort of a more philosophical goal would be to get [rid of] this notion of math being hard,” Watson said. “You know, [the feeling of] math being very abstract. I want that notion gone because math is a very relatable thing. You just have to teach it in a way that makes it relatable.”.
This story was originally published on The Muse on October 2, 2019.