With an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Kentucky, Christopher Aubuchon brings a broad-based liberal arts education to the math classrooms of Johnson State.
And that guides his teaching philosophy. He not only can relate math to students’ other academic subjects and interests, he can tap into each individual student’s process for understanding the complexities of numbers, functions and formulas.
“A capable math teacher encompasses so much more than just proficiency in mathematics. Of equal importance is an awareness of the various paths students take to gain an understanding of the principles of the subject,” Christopher says. “To teach is one matter, but to teach mathematics has a unique flavor all its own. Few disciplines are as feared and misunderstood. After all, I’ve never heard any stories of a student approaching his or her history professor and saying, ‘Look, I’ve never been able to ‘do’ history.’ ”
Christopher strongly believes that, whether a history major or an education major, “every student possesses the skills of deductive and inductive reasoning, but of course different students will have varying degrees of these skills.” The key is working with the student to find a path through which “they can learn in a way they find natural.”
As a result, he is constantly is trying to find new ways to educate students. “The act of teaching is indeed like the act of guiding friends up a mountain. And regardless of whether the path chosen was extremely challenging or less so, the important thing is that the hiker used a path which was comfortable and appropriate to their needs,” he says.
Since joining JSC in 1998, Christopher has worked to ensure his students not only know how to complete math problems but also to communicate those results through writing. “In all of my classes, I strongly encourage my students to carefully write out their solutions and proofs,” he says. “My personal belief is that the most knowledgeable person is somewhat useless without the ability to communicate this knowledge to others.”
As someone who values the process of learning, he especially appreciates students’ questions. “Whenever I am asked any question at all, I treat that question as if it were the most important question ever asked of me.”