When I was in high school my study habits were terrible. Looking back now, I'm not really sure how I did as well in school as I did. My lack of good study habits caught up to me in my freshman year of college. Because I was putting myself through college, I blamed my poor scholastic performance on having to work to pay for tuition, books, food, etc. One day, between classes, I was playing cards with some friends in the commons and complaining about being so busy that I didn't have time to study. (I know . . . wait for it.) My English Lit professor, Mr. Sidney Bender, was walking by and overheard the conversation. He stopped, turned around, looked straight at me, and said, "You, Sir, are an idiot."
Now, you have to understand that Mr.Bender was my favorite professor, and his was the one class I knew I was going to ace. So, having him call me an idiot got my attention. Being quick witted, I replied, "What?" He strode back to the table, pulled the cards out of my hand, grabbed the textbook sitting on the floor beside me, opened it on the table in front of me, and said "Study." Now he had everyone's attention. Sid was not only a great professor, but he was normally soft-spoken and friendly. There wasn’t a student within earshot that didn't look a little stunned. Then he said. "Meet me at 5:30 in my office . . . and bring every textbook you own." He didn't wait for me to answer. He just walked off to wherever it was he was going to begin with.
Between 5:30 and 9:00 that evening Mr. Bender and I worked out a study schedule that took into account every waking hour of my day. But he wasn't through with me yet. Over the course of several days, he met with me three more times. He showed me how to use my individual learning style to grasp subjects more quickly, how to choose which study times to use for which subjects, and how to easily recall the things I was learning. From that point forward my name never failed to appear in the Dean's List. (I told you he was a great professor.)
I will be forever grateful to Mr. Bender for calling me an idiot that day. By instilling in me the importance of good study habits and showing me how to create those habits, he gave me the tools I needed to become an exceptional student. Those tools continue to serve me to this day. The skills I learned from Mr. Bender have contributed to nearly every success I have enjoyed in my adult life.
Sid and I have stayed in touch over the years. When I told him I was considering tutoring, he laughed. When I asked him what was so funny, he replied, "You, Sir, are an idiot." Being much more quick witted than I was all those years ago, I said "What?" After we both stopped laughing he said, "Tutoring takes a great deal of time, effort, and personal dedication. Do you think you're up for it?" I thought for a second, and asked, "Is it worth it?" He smiled and said, "There's almost nothing more rewarding than helping a struggling student succeed." Once again Mr. Bender was right.