At some time or other, all tutors find themselves faced with difficult situations in a tutoring session. There are no magic answers and no "one technique fits all" strategies. As a tutor I am often asked “...Do you swear to give me the correct answer, the whole answer, and nothing but the answer, so help you God?"… Well, not exactly, I will not swear to that. I am a firm believer that it is vital to build a system that will actively encourage my students to wonder “why” and then provide them moments of amazement when they learn their own answers to their questions. For example, I try to create a framework that does not immediately give the correct answer to children who do not fully understand the mathematical concepts. (Before you tar and feather me, ask yourself what the “education thing” is really all about).
When I taught in the public schools, I always felt sad for those of my colleagues who had to “ram” an “exact”, “perfect” answer on their students. (Only the Gods possess knowledge). There was no discovery or thought required of those students, just rote learning. It is always a pleasure to me when a student says (in a moment of serendipity), “...There’s more to that answer than...” Once again, an incomplete answer completes the learning. I want my students to question the answers I give them and to develop their own methods of discovery. I will not be sitting next to them when they take their tests!
This is also true of the biggest elephant in the room – homework. It is not my job to make sure that every homework assignment a tutee turns in is perfect. Completing specific homework problems is not what I am hired to do. I certainly must review similar homework problems or concepts and help the student develop the critical thinking skills necessary to do his/her homework assignment independently. However, tutees must learn how to check their own work and how to have confidence in the answers they give. If they can do this, they will:
Be able to defend their answers.
Understand more completely.
Develop better self-esteem.
Become more independent learners.
Let me say it again, it is not my job to do students' homework assignments. If I do, the students will not learn how to do the work on their own. In addition, when students wait until the tutoring sessions to do assignments they exhibit a sign of poor time management skills. I hope my “inexact” answer creates thought patterns.