All too often my conversations with parents of the students I tutor start with what’s wrong, but maybe that attitude is precisely the problem. Our society’s preoccupation with standards and proof of competency can lead us to forget the true purpose of education, namely to educate. An education is not the grades on a report card, an education ought to be the cultivation of each students’ full potentials: unleashing a student’s interest and ability to critically think and engage in the content matter, the opportunity to develop and practice crucial social skills and creating the opportunity to become life-long learners. Sometimes grades reflect the acquisition of these skills, but frequently they simply reflect a student’s memorization and test taking skills—which matter, but are not the whole story.
As a student and life-long learner, I believe that helping students make education intrinsically rewarding is the greatest gift a tutor, teacher, parent or mentor can give. When I first meet a student, my interest is in what’s right! What do you enjoy about school? What classes peak your interest? Through encouraging what’s right, we can build the skills to tackle the problem areas. If a student loves language arts, but is struggling with algebra, we can simply turn boring equations into fun, interesting, relevant story problems. If social issues are affecting a student’s ability to learn, sometimes lending a concerned ear and sharing some wisdom can be more effective at turning that chemistry grade around then three extra hours of homework. Inspiration often arises from the least expected places. When I was having difficulty studying for a neuroscience class, painting a picture of an action potential ended up being the most effective study method. Sometimes we need to throw out the note cards and textbooks and engage students in their hobbies and interests. If students want to learn, nothing can stop us!
Perhaps the next time report cards are sent home, before you even look at the grades, your conversation can start with what skills and classes do you want an A in? What skills and classes do you deserve an A in? Then open it up with an open mind!
I am Manihi Kontnik and I love learning! I am a student at Claremont Graduate University. I am studying development positive psychology, which is the psychology of what is right with people. Positive psychology aims to identify and facilitate positive experiences, positive personality characteristics and positive institutions. My studies permeate my philosophy on education and my tutoring style. I believe a good education is the ticket the success and happiness, and the first step to receiving a quality education is desiring one. My goal as a tutor is to help make learning intrinsically rewarding.