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5 Year Tutor Shares His Views on "Why We Tutor"

Knowledge is meant to be shared. This is something that my Human Anatomy professor stressed as he prepared me to be a Teaching Assistant for his class. This philosophy gave me another purpose as to why I wanted to tutor.

Before this lesson, I wanted to share my knowledge in Human Anatomy only because I truly love the subject and I wanted others to know the subject as well. This is how I feel for all of the subjects I've excelled in during my education. Learning about different fields is truly a magnificent privilege. That does not mean that it is always easy to learn though. The subject may be hard, the learning style might be unorthodox to a certain student, or study time might be limited. That's where a tutor can come in.

A tutor guides the student through the learning process by showing them the path. The tutor lets the student make the connections and if they stumble upon an obstacle, the tutor is there to help the student rationalize through the problem. This is how I think a tor should share their knowledge. The knowledge is out there for the student and the tutor will make sure they reach it.

In some ways, a tutor can be thought of as a mentor. They not only share their knowledge of the subject but share tips and strategies on how to learn. This is important for a tutor to understand because it is this step that some students have struggles originate from. They have learning techniques that set them back from the get-go. The mentor can show strategies that they use themselves to see if that can provide help to not only in the subject the tutor is responsible for but for outside classes as well. If the tutor can make a strong impact outside of the subject and outside of the couple hours that they are with the tutor, then that tutor is successful in providing the maximum amount of assistance they can for the student. 

The most important aspect of the tutoring is of course making sure the student learns the subject efficiently. Not only to pass the class or to ace some tests but to have the student truly understand the concepts. This allows them to know the subject and how it applies to other subject that the student will encounter in their educational future. This is important for students of all ages because education just builds upon itself at any stage and is required for major tests such as the SAT, ACT, MCAT, university entrance exams and more. Striving to show the student that knowledge is not simply memorizing facts and pictures but rather understanding the concepts of the subject and how it applies to real life scenarios and other subjects is the true purpose of a tutor. If the tutor can accomplish this, the good exam scores and grades will come naturally and easier than if the student tried a "cramming" method.

Influencing this approach will be beneficial in so many situations than just school. For example, I work in a retinal degeneration lab. We do research surrounding the retina and how the retina operates in normal and stressed conditions. Learning the concepts involving the retina requires knowledge in many fields from biology to chemistry to physics. Knowing how to connect these concepts allows me to question and hypothesize theories. This begins the experimental process and has led to several discoveries on how the retina works. This would not have happened if I didn't understand the concepts of my classes. Facts are just one sentence bits of information. Concepts are the growing field for ideas and that's what I hope to share with students on their path to excellence in school and their extracurricular activities. 

This is the teaching philosophy I have followed throughout my various experiences as a tutor. It has proved to be effective when we follow-up with students so I would like to share these ideas with you. It will not only help you but it will help me become a better tutor/mentor/teacher which is something I always strive for. 

Alen D
Senior Science Student at Uni. of Utah
University of Utah
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