Tutoring is a journey that takes us on paths that are as different as our own lives and personalities. Often, the first step involves facing real or imagined fears about yourself, such as Am I good enough? and Are people going to find out I don’t know anything? and yet, to allow the feeling that you indeed have valuable knowledge to share with others to overcome these crippling ideas. Some of us are confident throughout the whole process, and some of us express doubts along the way, what is important how it makes us grow.
To grow, that is where our paths and the paths of our students converge, and the journey of learning becomes an adventure taken together. Some of us might recognize in our students the courage to ask for help, and the crippling fear of not being good enough, that was once (or perhaps still is) our own. Be what may, most often we are the guides our students look to for direction, and we are asked to provide not only academic, but emotional support as well.
Life is about persevering and beating the odds. It is about admitting I do not understand, please teach me, which is both courageous and humbling. In the same vein, both asking for help and deciding to be a tutor, can take the same amount of courage. Being a tutor is simply that next step we take when we feel that we can guide others past the same point where we were in the past. And yet, a point one never gets past in life, not knowing, a beautiful concept in itself.
As we go through life, we will always be both the teacher and the student. Ascribing oneself to being only one or the other is either arrogant or self-devaluing, respectively. Everybody knows something and has yet to learn something else. It is the realization and the desire to better oneself that is important.
The student-tutor relationship is a much more personal one than the classic student-teacher relationship. One way I could describe it, starting with the student-teacher relationship, is that it is akin to the relationship between a restaurant patron and the chef. The food represents the knowledge that the student consumes, and while they may read the menu and pose a few questions to the waiter about the meal, which is usually the extent of it because so many other students are waiting to eat as well.
The student tutor relationship is more like cooking together. The meals can be of varying complexity but the way I like to think about it is that both the student and the tutor are trying to fill a big crock pot with various ingredients. Of course, the tutor oversees the pot, but it is his responsibility to allow the student to put as much of his own contribution barring something that would completely ruin the taste. In that case, the tutor must point out to the student why putting an old shoe into the pot might not be appealing and provide alternatives.
At the end of the session, both the student and the tutor will savor the meal they have created and thus, have partaken in the learning process together.
Igor Peric is a 3rd year Internet Applications and Web Development program and has been a tutor since Fall of 2017. In the future, Peric plans to continue his studies at University in Computer Studies.
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash