When I was a student, private tutors were very rare. My parents didn’t even think about it as an option, and if I struggled with a subject that only meant I didn’t study hard enough. I learned to accept this attitude and spiraled into apathy in subjects which were just “not for me”. A “C” in biology was good enough – at least I didn’t have to keep trying and failing over and over again, chipping at my self-esteem a bit more every time.
This all changed in the second year of college when I found myself desperately trying to grasp the ideas behind Tensor Calculus. I was stuck, frustrated, and hopeless. No amount of staring at that wretched book was going to change my situation and I knew I needed help. For the first time in my life I decided to find a tutor because exams were coming close and failure was not an option.
The retired math professor I found was nothing short of a miracle worker, at least that’s how it seemed to me at the time. He magically revealed all the sense behind that incomprehensible jungle of symbols and boosted my confidence to such a level that I happily grappled with any problem thrown at me. His teaching method inspired me to become a tutor myself.
So, in a nutshell, what are the benefits of tutoring?
Individual tutoring circumvents the alienating feeling of being compared to others, which is one of the biggest learning obstacles for students who are struggling in school. The tutor can gauge the teaching style and curriculum best suited to the student’s knowledge and preferences. Furthermore, students who have low self-esteem don’t have to hide behind others – they’re in a safe place where they can get all the attention and support they need.
Every student is different. Being a private tutor taught me the most important lesson about teaching – there are no blanket rules. Every student struggles with something different. Concepts that are difficult to grasp can be taken at a slower pace and reinforced through custom-made exercises and homework. Learning methods can be adapted for each student individually which gives the tutor much more freedom to use learning aids such as videos and games and encourage the student’s own creativity.
Contrary to common belief, tutoring actually encourages independent learning. Teaching the student how to be self-reliant and do their own research is the core goal of tutoring. A tutor helps the student see their improvement, helps them develop healthy learning habits, and gradually leads them towards self-sufficiency.
Teaching time management and study habits.
Most students I have encountered over the years didn’t actually know how to study. This is as important to learn as the actual subject. Taking notes while reading, making infographics and maps helps greatly with understanding and memorizing concepts. Breaking units into smaller chunks which are dealt with one at a time improves efficiency and saves time, while improving the thought process. Taking scheduled micro-breaks from studying also helps reduce intellectual fatigue and stress.
Improving self-confidence and the attitude towards the subject.
An individualized approach makes the learning process fun and engaging, something that learning in school desperately lacks. Abstract and difficult concepts can be much less intimidating when they’re implemented in real-life situations or backed up with an anecdote. From science to philosophy helps the student relate to the subject and think of it as a puzzle to tackle with rather than a bundle of needless frustration. From this improved attitude comes enthusiasm and confidence in one’s own abilities.
Tutoring is so much more than just providing a dedicated teacher for the child. Having a person who knows how to connect with a child while providing an opportunity for intellectual discussion is great training for the world of “grown ups”. Rhetorics, critical thinking and analytical problem solving are skills which are a bit forgotten nowadays, but bring immense advantage in coping with any obstacles life throws our way. Passing on these skills, along with the academic knowledge, it the true power of every seasoned tutor.