Meet the Teacher

Name: Mark Harris

Subject Area: Math   (I have taught AP Calculus, AP Statistics, Honors Precalculus, Discrete Mathematics, Integrated Math 2 and Math 4, Essentials of College Math, Algebra 2, and Advanced Quantitative Reasoning)

Background:  Originally from upstate New York, I have also lived in Ohio and Texas before moving to the Asheville area in 2015. I am a graduate of Cornell University and spent most of my professional life as a programmer/applications developer. I also taught programming at a college in Northwest Ohio for several years. I began teaching high school math in 2012 as way to help younger people face the challenges of an ever-more-technological world, and, perhaps even more so, because I absolutely LOVE the subject.

My thoughts about math:

Learning math is not just performing endless (and seemingly pointless, sometimes) computations until you run out of patience or stamina.  Yes, the skills you develop can vastly increase your value in the modern workforce, but not everyone may be aiming for a mathematically-oriented career. That is fine. But you can still do math. Math is woven into the way we reason, and math makes you better at almost everything. With the tools of mathematical thinking, you can understand the world in a deeper, sounder, and more meaningful way. 

I often tell my classes that math exercises that don't seem applicable to real life are sort of like doing push-ups in football practice, or playing scales in music. No one actually does a push-up during game play, so why do them in practice? Math hones the mind, builds reasoning abilities, and develops the mental acrobatics necessary for problem-solving of any kind...even when those problems seem very un-math-like.  

Besides, math problems can be fun! A math problem is a puzzle, or a good mystery novel. Math is not "Jeopardy", its "Sherlock Holmes" or "CSI". We look for clues, we seek patterns, and we try to find the truths that are hidden in plain sight. 

Making mistakes in math is a good thing. It means we have become brave enough to try - and that is another important lesson that has great meaning beyond the classroom. Another saying I often share with classes is that it is perfectly OK to fall down seven long as you get up eight times. Just like we all must do in "real life". 

Perhaps what I like best about math is that anyone who takes on the challenge will come out better than they began, regardless of their grade or level of mastery.  It truly IS the journey, not the destination....and with the right attitude, it can be a lot of fun!

Calvin and Hobbes Math