I’m familiar with the schools in the area, and their subject matter
From Lab to Parker to New Trier, North Shore Country Day to Loyola Academy, St. Ignatius to Joseph Sears to Roycemore, Montessori in Evanston to Waldorf in Chicago—I’m familiar with the values and overall community climate of many Chicago and North Shore area schools, so it’s easier for me to immediately understand the context of my students’ academic struggles and challenges. From the “wine dark seas” of the Odyssey at New Trier, to the commonalities in the AP English curriculum, I’m also familiar with a lot of my students’ academic material—after 26 years of tutoring, on top of my own high school experience, you could say I’ve gone to high school 5+ times!
I understand the academic material
I have outstanding academic skills which enable me to discuss the details of the inner academic problems of my students without stumbling over the actual subject matter itself.
In an information society, STORING information is not the most important skill to have, because information is readily available everywhere. For example, before books could be more easily produced in the 1500’s, students had to memorize texts, word-for-word, and good students were good memorizers. Nowadays, we certainly don’t ask high schoolers to memorize half of the Odyssey word-for-word. We understand that the book will be there, so knowing the words is not the key skill: understanding the words is the key. But how do students develop deep, powerful understandings of what they read?
In the information delivery model, students listen to teachers tell them what they should learn from what they read, and good students then store that information. While this is better than just focusing on memorizing the words, it produces students that are only one step better than word-memorizers; they are idea-memorizers. But truly autonomous, productive, creative people are not word or idea memorizers: they are idea creators, synthesizers, and producers.
Thus, I believe education must start with empowering individual students to develop their own analytical and creative skills. This is a long-term, personalized process in which teachers function as facilitators, coaches, co-learners and counselors, creating learning opportunities, offering ideas, and nurturing stable, supportive learning environments where students can take the chances they need to take in order to truly explore their own unique ways of thinking.