As a tutor in Liverpool, I am often challenged to find the best method to teach academic subjects to students who may or may not have discovered a drive or inclination towards a particular subject. As tutors, it is a difficult thing to accomplish; we are tasked with taking on students who normally have sub-requirement grades, and our task is to improve these and generate confidence within a student so that they can succeed in a particular subject.
However, it must be remembered that a student of any level that isn’t performing well at a particular subject has nominally lost confidence in the subject, and would rather run garrulous on any subject other than the one they are required to give attention to.
The question is, therefore, what can be done to fix some semblance of understanding at the least in a student in the subject to be studied? Here is one of many techniques that I have cultivated, and why I consider it to work.
Study Buddy. Sounds simple, but having two-on-one sessions seems to be the norm at the highest levels of education. But why does this work?
First, let us consider the normal one-on-one situation. Here, there is a single conduit between Student and Teacher. If this is high-quality and functional, then as in the arts, it can work in a wonderful way. But why does a two-on-one system work best? Why not three-on-one?
The answer may lie in a number of different reasons. Firstly; there exist two more conduits of communication in a two-on-one teaching scenario. There is teacher to student A, teacher to student B, and student A to student B. This gives many more avenues for communication about the ideas under discussion than before. This can only be constructive for the students to learn in. There is the ‘teacher’, and the ‘friend’. The ‘friend’ will help to understand and work out between the students themselves a cultural or literal translation(s) of what the ‘teacher’ is harping on about. This means that the exposure to the ideas being taught in different manners exists more explicitly, which can only help a student to learn.
Secondly; safety. If we have a friend present, we feel safer to take risks. We must remember that learning only takes place when the student is out of their comfort zone, and having another fellow student, usually a friend, present makes this act considerably easier for both students.
Thirdly; lack of threat. This is related to the second point, but is subtly different in that by having two students, any threat from an usually physically, emotionally, and mentally stronger teacher feels reduced. Likely, it was never there to begin with, but the removal of a perceived threat is as good as the removal of a real threat: the result is the same.
It is for these reasons that I believe I have had more success with two-on-one teaching that one-on-one teaching. I suggest to other teachers that they should try it; financially, I can charge less per student, and yet deliver more effective teaching and earn more money overall per hour.
Definitely food for thought!
Sapere Aude, M.