I've led peer learning sessions, group projects, and indeed student organizations. I've lobbied State Congressmen and Senators, aided business owners in making their establishments environmentally friendly, judged robotics competitions, wrestled at the state varsity level, written published columns and poetry, acted in more than a dozen plays, and delivered speeches to audiences in the hundreds. But none of those things make me a tutor.
Merriam-Webster defines a tutor as "a person charged with the instruction and guidance of another." I have instructed, and I have guided. I've had the privilege of being instructed by masters in their fields: in choral performance, in physics, even in trading financial derivatives on stock options. I've seen how they work, how they inspire, what traits and manners raise a student to new heights of curious inquiry and delighted motivation.
I believe that tutoring is a form of friendship. When I have tutored in the past, it has been as much about learning what those I work with value as their knowledge. Often, the issue is disconnect between the knowledge they seek and the goals they have for themselves. But guidance is about bridging that gap: helping people to discover that knowledge is not just a kind of power but indeed a kind of freedom. Whatever their goals, knowledge will aid the pursuit of them. And knowledge will in time inform their very valuations, and indeed their goals.
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