El Paisano

Out of All the Math Tutors , I’m Possibly the Worst

The Behavioral and Social Sciences Department Counselor Angelica Martinez gave such an informative and stimulating presentation to my philosophy class yesterday that the majority of students, including myself, immediately signed up to meet with her. I was impressed by her insight into college planning and the length she goes to help students. But her last message to us, right before Dr. Preston was going to begin a lecture about the dichotomy of Socrates against the Sophists who came before him, is a message that I can’t stop thinking about. Ms. Martinez said that counseling is vital, so vital that even if you have a bad counseling experience, you should not let that be your last counseling. Ms. Martinez said humbly that even if she was the counselor you met with and had a bad experience, you should find another counselor on campus who suits you better.

Obtain these things to succeed

The Connection to Tutoring

The first time I sought tutoring was at a different community college, sometime in 2010. In the brief span of 5-10 minutes, the tutor successfully convinced me of three things; he didn’t care, he thought I was stupid, and that I wasn’t going to get anything by spending more time with him. So I immediately walked away and never sought tutoring again. In hindsight, I may have been a little soft skinned when I was 18 years old. However, I stand by my appraisal of that guy. Today he’d get negative one Yelp stars from me, but since Yelp makes you give at least one star, I won’t give him the one star he didn’t earn.

The trouble is, I have to acknowledge the possibility probability certainty that I’ve been that guy to someone else. I have certainly given someone a bad tutoring experience. Maybe it was just because I had an off day or an off week. Perhaps it’s because some people can’t stand my face, my voice, or my smell. Maybe it’s because when I speak, some people can’t understand the way I talk, or the way I choose to explain things. Whatever the case, it is their rightful opinion that I suck at my job-at least for that day.

The Apology

Socrates used to say he knew nothing but that he wanted to be virtuous, and that drove him to want to help people. I don’t know much, but I want to help. When I imagine being the student who comes to the Math and Science Center, expecting help, I understand my role as a tutor a little better. I know if I were the student coming in to be tutored, by a peer who is also a student, that I’d be highly skeptical. And I think that’s great, in fact I believe skeptical learners are the best. Because if I didn’t believe that, I’d stop being skeptical! However, I also imagine coming in and having that bad experience. Actually, I don’t just imagine it, I remember it, and thus I know how discouraging it may be. If you ever had a bad experience with me, I apologize.

The Prescription: Be Tenacious About Getting Help

Ben Watson comes from way behind and hunts down Champ Bailey, showing persistence and taking things into his own hands

I want to echo Ms. Martinez’s advice and generalize it. Don’t let one bad experience stop you from getting what you need. To generalize it, be persistent and take things into your own hands. In mathematics, or any courses, hunt for resources. I’ve seen people’s outlook in mathematics courses transformed because they received excellent tutoring. If you can’t obtain my buddy Erik(shoutout to E-Rock), or any one of the other great tutors working at Rio Hondo or privately, I suggest getting adept at using online math resources. Understand that your professor is the number one resource you should exploit. But which of us would stop there if we knew we could get even more of a boost from other resources? Ask professors, tutors, and your peers what resources they are using. Be vigilant, like Ben Watson, who ran 100 yards endzone to endzone to hunt down Champ Bailey when it looked like he had no chance.

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Out of All the Math Tutors , I’m Possibly the Worst