Learning through Tutoring

In school, there are certain things I like to think I’m good at: Chemistry, English, Math, etc. But believe me, Latin is not one of them. If I had a penny for every time I got my ablatives mixed with my datives or my passives mixed with my actives I wouldn’t need a job. For the past few years I’ve been scraping by in this class, cursing my teacher, my school, and mostly the Romans. It was made much worse by the fact that my classmate who I’ve known since we were kids was a Latin prodigy, mastering every sentence that was thrown at her. But, I had one thing over her: I had Chemistry. While she mastered her grammar, I mastered my gases. While she was busy writing compositions, I was creating perfume from alcohols and acids.

However, one week we had a Latin test coming up, one I was not at all prepared for. Fearing that I would fail the class, my parents told me to go to my classmate for help. Slowly and begrudgingly I went to her house and sat down with her to prepare for a torrent of teasing and testing. But instead, what I found was a patient teacher, one who wanted to help me do better and honestly didn’t care at all about the gap in our knowledge. After just one session of hard work and studying my confidence had already increased. I felt like I could translate the whole Bible from Latin if I wanted to!

I did better in Latin, and my grade improved, so things were going great, but my friend was still struggling in Chemistry. Now that I knew how far a little help could go, I offered to help talk her through some of the concepts that she didn’t understand. From that point on our tutoring sessions became more mutually beneficial. She would help me with Latin, and I’d help her with Chemistry. From this I was able to appreciate how good tutoring was for the tutor themselves, a job I previously thought was only good for the person learning. But being a tutor for someone else can create an amazing change in your mindset. Once I started tutoring her I started to think about my chemistry work differently, not just how to solve the problems but why they worked and how to explain the reasoning behind them.

Tutoring isn’t just beneficial for both the tutor and the learner, but it’s also a completely natural process that can be traced back to our early years. In a study done by David Wood, he tracked tutoring behaviors in children as young as 2 years old! Human beings want to help each other, and learning from one of your peers can be very helpful. So next time you’re struggling in school with a certain subject, instead of reading the textbook over and over, looking online, or just panicking, ask one of your classmates how they understand the material.