Why do I Tutor Phyiscs?
By Phil Marks
My first experience of cars was at the age of 4, when I would pass tools to my
Dad who was working under his milk van. My Mum used to stand me in the kitchen sink and wash me down with grease
remover.
Since I can remember, I have been interested in how things work, and in the
earth and universe. That led me naturally into physics, bridging the gap between maths and engineering. I guess
I could have been an engineer, but with an interest in maths I leaned towards the ideas side. Nevertheless, I
maintained an interest in cars and when I was in university I did at one time have my car engine on the desk in
my room. The cleaning lady was not impressed!
To me, physics is the most fundamental of the physical sciences. Maths provides
the toolset and engineering provides the structures and devices we use. Think of the manmade physical world as
a building, built by engineers. Physics provides the bricks and maths the cement.
Almost everyone has some ability at maths, but many hear the word and freeze. I
found my limits in maths when a lecturer was explaining how a moving, changing weather system generates waves on
the sea. I realised then that I had reached my limit in maths, but that didn’t limit my understanding of the
weather and sea.
A good teacher should be able to excite your interest in a subject and provide
simple explanations of complex physical events, without letting the mathematical equations get in the way. Good
physicists can reduce a complex situation to a simple question or visualization which gives an insight into the
problem. Probably the best known example is Einstein’s ‘Gedank’ – that is ‘Thought’  experiment, where he
imagined himself sitting on a light wave. This helped him develop his Special Theory of Relativity. When his
theory was published in 1905, very few physicists could understand it, but today it is accessible to all
students of physics and fans of Startrek!
So, my approach is to try to use analogies and simple explanations to
illustrate complex phenomena, and generate enthusiasm in my students. After all, learning is much easier when
you are interested and enthusiastic.
My first experience of cars was at the age of 4, when I would pass tools to my
Dad who was working under his milk van. My Mum used to stand me in the kitchen sink and wash me down with grease
remover.
Since I can remember, I have been interested in how things work, and in the
earth and universe. That led me naturally into physics, bridging the gap between maths and engineering. I guess
I could have been an engineer, but with an interest in maths I leaned towards the ideas side. Nevertheless, I
maintained an interest in cars and when I was in university I did at one time have my car engine on the desk in
my room. The cleaning lady was not impressed!
To me, physics is the most fundamental of the physical sciences. Maths provides
the toolset and engineering provides the structures and devices we use. Think of the manmade physical world as
a building, built by engineers. Physics provides the bricks and maths the cement.
Almost everyone has some ability at maths, but many hear the word and freeze. I
found my limits in maths when a lecturer was explaining how a moving, changing weather system generates waves on
the sea. I realised then that I had reached my limit in maths, but that didn’t limit my understanding of the
weather and sea.
A good teacher should be able to excite your interest in a subject and provide
simple explanations of complex physical events, without letting the mathematical equations get in the way. Good
physicists can reduce a complex situation to a simple question or visualization which gives an insight into the
problem. Probably the best known example is Einstein’s ‘Gedank’ – that is ‘Thought’  experiment, where he
imagined himself sitting on a light wave. This helped him develop his Special Theory of Relativity. When his
theory was published in 1905, very few physicists could understand it, but today it is accessible to all
students of physics and fans of Startrek!
So, my approach is to try to use analogies and simple explanations to
illustrate complex phenomena, and generate enthusiasm in my students. After all, learning is much easier when
you are interested and enthusiastic.
Do you need a private tutor?
Contact me at
or call in at my site www.tutorsforsuccess.co.uk
© 2010 Phil Marks. All rights reserved
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