Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Expectations and tutoring

I had several tutoring sessions with a bright young fellow that was having a little bit of math trouble. It was interesting talking to his grandmother about their own efforts to tutor him. I guessed right on some of their trouble - being able to sit down and help with patience. I know, because my emotions sometimes get in the way when I try to help my own kids.

It was easier for me to help the young man with some of his work than his relatives, not because they didn't know the material, but because they knew it and struggled with the learning curve. The difficult part of that curve is not necessarily getting from point A to point B, from staring at squiggles on a page to comprehension, but the gap in between them which is measured in time and in struggle.

When you are on the other side of point B it is sometimes hard to remember what that gap was like - you just see the two points and think that Scotty can beam you from one point to the next.

It is difficult watching people we have a strong relationship with labor in that no-person's-land between the points, fighting off doubt, trudging through misconceptions, sweating to build connections, swatting away distractions. We see it, and it is so easy to just say: "Here it is! Here is the treasure, here is Point B. No worries. No hassle." Yet the hassle may mean more ultimately than the treasure.

But frankly it wasn't really that hard for me to say, "How do you think it should be done," and then watch him struggle. And wait. All the while Grandmother is fidgeting.

I'm in my own struggle right now between points. I would love for someone to hand me Point B. Conceptually I know that the struggle will make me a better person, but I really like this quote:

Son, if you really want something in this life, you have to work for it. Now quiet! They're about to announce the lottery numbers. - Homer Simpson

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