Unexpected Role Reversal

As a tutor on the job for many years, I encounter all kinds of students. This makes for a lot of variety and the element of surprise. They come from different ethnic backgrounds and cultures, have a unique family life, and exhibit very individual tendencies. Their goals in life are across the board from law, medicine, teaching, construction, engineering, to sports, entertainment, and social work. I am pleased to see how committed they are to their futures, even when they are not excelling in school at the moment. I have a role to fulfill in preparing them for their chosen calling. Each tutoring session is a chance to find out more about the world of young people and their aspirations.

Given the reality of this cross section of students, I have to adapt my lessons to their interests. It can be challenging if they are quite different from mine. I like to tell stories and make analogies that are meaningful and convey the basic points of my instruction. If someone likes to cook, I tie mathematics back to weights and measures. If they sew, I can talk about fractions of a yard of fabric. I never know where a lesson will take me, hence it has been an extremely enjoyable activity that rivals my graduate school classes in personal value.

A was teaching a student gymnast recently and it was not difficult to ty things back to this endeavor as it is one of my favorite sports. I watch the finals and preparations for the Olympics with glee. I was happy to have her in my midst to share my passion for the horse, vault, rings, and exercise floor. We discuss the best gymnasts in history as well as the world today.  During a recent school competition, we delayed our session to accommodate our need to attend. Interestingly enough, the student gymnast specializes in the trampoline, a subject of new interest in that the device is appearing in more and more school gyms. Kids are taking their childhood obsession with bouncing up and down to a new level. Advanced “tricks” are as difficult as any other type of gymnastics and merit serious consideration. This is no mere pastime akin to miniature golf. It is a long way from a backyard mini trampoline for tots to a regulation version for professionals.

To tie my lessons to gymnastics with a focus on the trampoline, I had to do my homework and found a great web site on the topic here. There are issues of weight and height involved when determining the reliability of a unit. Physics come into play when looking at the dynamics of the jumps, flips, and somersaults. Geometry is relevant when we trace the arc of movement. Meanwhile, I have spent so much time online and talking with the student that I feel that I have perhaps learned more about her interests than she has learned about mine. The time spent preparing has been well worth it as her comprehension of the tutoring subject has grown immensely.