Got a call this week from the district about tutoring a home bound student in geometry and English. Apparently the geometry part was getting to be too much for the previous tutor, while I have a math endorsement. So not only do I get to work with this very pleasant young person, I get to do so in a balance of subjects. I loved geometry in high school, because I had a good teacher and enjoyed the formal logic and organization. Building geometric proofs shows a person how to reason, which is broadly applicable. I’ll also really enjoy helping with writing and lit, which form the foundations of the education of a thinking, feeling, communicating adult.
Today’s first session went very well. I introduced deductive reasoning and geometric proofs with the help of the online curriculum, and then set her up to start her persuasive essay on the value of a college education. Should be able to have some pretty good dialogue on that. I’m trying to dig up an article I read on what an education itself should be, to supplement the three provided in the Common Core text. I wonder if I should lend her my copy of the Teenage Liberation Handbook, too. No, I promise I will be very professional, and consider myself accountable to the student’s parents first as the taxpayers and guardians, and the district as the contract issuer. No pushing any anti-institutional anti-corporate takeover of education thinking. Only providing resources necessary to form and articulate an educated opinion based on critical reading of informational text, personal experience, and sound reasoning. Which fulfills Common Core State Standard Number…(I’ll just look it up)…oh. I see there is no standard listed for that. It only goes as far as understanding what authors are saying, describing how they make their arguments (evidence plus rhetorical techniques), identifying the intended audience, and assessing the effectiveness of the argumentation on said audience. No mention of mining personal or community experiences and applying reasoned judgement of others’ views. Then it jumps to writing one’s own persuasive essay, with effective use of evidence and argumentation. Skipping the important step of actually forming an opinion, a view, a set of beliefs. Well, maybe I will sneak in some old fashioned reasoning, and even the much more radical search your own heart process, helping her get at her uncommon core.
Near the end I found out this student is getting no help with biology, which was apparently considered lower priority. That’s odd, I said—I wonder if they know I’m a biology major. The mom was concerned about her student lacking that class, so I promised to check in with the district about it. Sure would be great to get that going too for her, and would be very efficient for the district too, to have one tutor do all three subjects. English and geometry are allotted four hours a week. Two hours per class, which could imply, by extrapolation, that a student can complete a full load of five courses with only ten hours a week of formal instruction (rather than thirty-seven), plus assignment feedback. So what’s high school for, anyway? The convenience of mass production, job creation for administration and staff, large group peer socialization, practice at subservience, keeping daytime job market competition to a minimum, and creating an accessible, centralized, digitally accessible marketplace for curriculum and resources?
So I drive away to drop off her last geometry assignments to the school teacher for grading, thinking, I get paid to do this? Twice as much as substitute pay, too. And I wonder, how many students would opt for a tax-paid personal tutor if they knew about the program… No, one must fill out the paperwork and get the doctor’s signature–properly so. But at least there are some perks to illness and temporary disability. I’m curious how many other tutoring openings there might be.