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University of Alabama (History)
The University of Alabama (Graduate Coursework)
Originally from the small, Central American republic of Panamá, I am a native bilingual in Spanish and English, which I have taught since 1996 in many settings--from Montessori preschools in Alabama to construction work sites in Madrid, Spain, to insurance offices in New York City to law offices here in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex, where I have been living since 2003.
I enjoy helping students to finish their coursework successfully, especially in humanistic subjects such as History, Philosophy and Literature.
I read broadly in fiction and non-fiction; play, watch and occasionally coach soccer; write poetry; go camping; and enjoy traveling in the U.S. and abroad. Originally from the small, Central American republic of Panamá, I am a native bilingual in Spanish and English, which I have taught since 1996 in many settings--from Montessori preschools in Alabama to construction work sites in
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I have been teaching English as a second language to adults and children since 1998, using a variety of methods, including Total Physical Response, the Direct Method (controlled conversation), and the traditional grammar, reading and writing complements.
My degree in History encompassed both ancient as well as early modern European and North American colonial history. I was particularly interested in political thought, and generally concerned with the concepts 'culture' and 'civilization'. Because of these interests, I did a lot of primary-source research in everything from ancient Greek archaeology and literature to 18th-century pamphleteering in the period of both the American and French revolutions. Today, I continue to enjoy history broadly, researching the 19th and 20th centuries. My latest research subject is Pres. Herbert Hoover and what his 'failure' to manage Wall Street's financial crisis meant for the United States and the Great Depression.
I studied Political Science as a minor at university (History major), then continued in graduate school as a History, Political Theory and Literature researcher. My interests were in ancient Greek and Roman concepts such as pólis/politics, civis/civilization and colo/culture; constitutional history and theory from ancient Athens to the United States; and 17th- and 18th-century European political thought and political economy.
Broadly speaking, doing philosophy means that everything in the world, from existence itself to mental processes, is under consideration. As Aristotle put it, philosophy begins in wonder that things are as they are. However, like so many other things in our culture, philosophy has changed somewhat in meaning. Originally, the ancient Greek writer Plato's concept, inspired by his contact with Socrates, used the metaphor of a lover pursuing his beloved to define philosophy as the pursuit of wisdom. Of course, it is one thing to be amazed that the world is the way it is, and it is another thing entirely to 'pursue' anything the way a lover pursues a beloved in order to be wise. What did that mean for Plato and the ancient Greeks and Romans after him? It meant that philosophy was a way of life, not just an intellectual hobby or academic study through books.
Today, Plato's definition of philosophy is not exactly how a professor of Philosophy might define what he or she does in the context of university courses, research, or writing. Philosophy at the beginning of the 21st century is an academic concern that includes (brief list): Metaphysics (the problem of existence--being and reality), Political Philosophy (the problem of society and government), Ethics (the problem of relationships, good and evil), Logic (the problem of how to think well and the kinds of thinking appropriate to diverse situations), Epistemology (the problem of knowledge--whether we really know anything and how we know what we know), and History of Philosophy (the problem of what past philosophers have said and whether there is such a thing as a philosophical tradition).
Therefore, to study philosophy today means: (1) to become familiar with what others have said/written on a particular problem; (2) to identify what worked and what did not work in those past sayings/writings; (3) to arrive at your own approach to solving the problem (or eliminating the problem, which is not the same thing--see Ludwig Wittgenstein); and (4) to learn how to clearly present the premises, arguments and conclusions of your approach. Even logic, which is taken for granted as the method for critiquing and arguing in philosophy, needs to be understood in terms of its history and which of its concepts are more or less helpful for the purposes of philosophy.
Lastly, although philosophy as people in the United States typically learn it is a European phenomenon with ancient Greek roots (the word is a compound of the Greek prefix 'philo-', which means 'friend' or 'lover', and the word 'sophia', which means 'wisdom'), the idea of philosophy, both in the Platonic sense and in the modern sense, has strong analogues in all of the world's cultures, in all continents. Hence, achieving broad understanding of what philosophy is also entails becoming familiar with its various iterations in all places throughout history (e.g., in Africa, in the Middle East, in the Far East Asia, etc.).
I can help you to communicate in Spanish by way of methods such as Total Physical Response, which associates physical movement with language; and the Audio-Lingual Method, in which you listen to useful phrases and sentences and repeat them (Pimsleur uses a version of this method). However, my main method is through questions (conversational or 'direct' method). Typically, I assign writing and listening exercises as homework, and focus on practicing conversation and oral grammar drills during lessons.