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The Joy of Learning?


Throughout history Aristotle’s works have been on and off of the world’s best seller list. Even though they might not be on it now, this does not take away from the perennial value that these books have. Indeed his work in philosophy, politics and science has done much to shape western history, but not to be forgotten is his work as a tutor. Since his tutoring was linked to the immemorial name of Alexander the Great, the work of Aristotle the Educator can never be underestimated.
 
One of the great ideas that Aristotle discusses in his work on rhetoric is that of the pleasure of learning. It is true that manuals and testing do much to rid the modern student of this pleasure with the pressure they cause to simply “cover the material”. However, it is essential for the student to experience the pleasure of understanding if they are going to ultimately succeed in their educational experience.
 
Things that have helped my students enjoy learning have been:
1. Understanding the material in light of the entire subject. Often, by helping a student understand where something fits in to the big picture, a tutor can clarify the difficult material and give them a better understanding of the subject matter.
2. Helping a student learn how they themselves learn. Often times students who learn orally, or by listening loose out when they are given something to read. In my own case, I learn best through discussion. Without the discussion groups that I constantly participated in, as well as some great mentors, I doubt that I would have ever attained a license in philosophy.
3. Helping the student understand why the subject matter is important. Though the subject matter might not have immediate practical applications, a good tutor should help the student understand that there is a great value in material that deals with cultural or theoretical subjects. 
4. Understanding what the curriculum is looking for. To understand the goal of the course and the steps that lead up to that goal is ultimately to lessen a student’s work load, while at the same time, give them a shot a getting a higher score. Simplifying one’s work lessens stress and leaves more room for actually appreciating the material that needs to be covered.
5. Explaining the same thing in different ways. Often times the ambiguity of a single word will bar a student from understanding a concept and so too from the pleasure of learning. Explaining an idea in different ways will either bring to light the part that was unclear, or circumvent the problem entirely. 
 
Students who find no pleasure in study are often convinced that studying is not their cup of tea. However, in a democratic republic like our own, as well as in a society that depends so heavily on higher education in order to function, this attitude is unacceptable. Everyone should exert themselves towards excelling in their education. When a student is able to discover the way they learn, it is like they have discovered Italian cuisine for the first time. Of course they might like their pasta arrabiata more than their pizza a quattro formaggi, and cannoli most of all. However, learning how to enjoy studying a subject will ultimately help them achieve goals that may have seemed out-of-reach before, and maybe win them a place among the great names of history.

$85p/h

Alexander Olaf H.

Tutor of language and western literature

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