Another Random Post

Source credit: Matt Trommer
I know, I know, I keep writing about my experiences tutoring. It may be boring to readers - aka you - but it's emotionally cathartic (at least for me). The perennial self-other dichotomy; what a beautiful and meaningless term...

I was starting to feel that I wasn't very useful during tuition anymore. We covered the syllabus completely and it is now 11 weeks away from the O levels. All my students have to do now are their assessment books.

In fact, I'm rather bored during lessons. I sit there, watch them and draw smiley faces along borders. No challenging concepts to impart, no mental workout. Much time is spent marking their work and having minor heart attacks:

"A white precipitate, white in colour, is formed."

"Carbon monoxide harms us."

I had wanted to stop giving tuition to some students but were met with resistance for a number of reasons:

1) Look at the above answers. Even though they know their content thoroughly, the kids have difficulties expressing their ideas. (Quite a challenge to overcome... I'm remedying it with exposure to a diversity of questions and parroting key concepts at apt moments.)

2) The kids - to my astonishment and glee - wanted me to continue. I didn't want to continue because I felt morally corrupted, receiving money for just sitting around. Besides, I'd love to have time and energy to explore alternative interests (volunteering, visual arts, Christian faith). But they wanted me to go on, how cool is that? Really flattered and humbled by this.

3) Their parents wanted me to be around. A bit scary. I've an illogical phobia of parents. They pay me but don't really talk to me (except to grill me about their kids' progress). In some parents' eyes, I'm a paid servant. This is probably the basis of my fears.

In a way, the kids need me around because I'm no longer just their tutor. I'm no longer someone who simply explained concepts.

Just read one self-improvement book by Dr Rob Yeung. While he was writing his thesis, he worked as a gym instructor, health advisor and career counsellor. Most of the time, he revealed, was spent on listening. He didn't do much. All the clients expected of him was his attention.

It was because I expected myself to teach every single moment of the tuition that I felt unfulfilled. After all, the syllabus is limited and the kids' abilities to analyse go downhill after one hour 15 minutes. They certainly don't want to be bombarded with facts.

Perhaps it's because I rationalise to the point of absurdity. Perhaps it's because I want to deserve what I receive. Perhaps it's because I'm sometimes unsure about my meaning in existence. Perhaps it's because there's too many perhaps.

I need a shift in my paradigms. To be there for them in whatever ways they require me, not just as someone who imparts facts.
On the lift down to the ground floor, a complete stranger (she's my student's neighbour) asked me if I'm tutoring English.

It must be the sore throat that I'm having. Makes my voice more alluring and English-teacherish, er-er-hem


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