How many times have I heard this: "I'm too old to learn Spanish." Or, "Only kids' brains can absorb new languages." While I would like to just say "phooey!" and leave it at that, I've come to see that adults who say such things are in one of two groups: Traumatized Former Language Students, or Victims of Ageism.
There's a problem with language education in America: we don't do it. Why is it that the average person from any African national speaks four or five languages, with no language lab, little money at the local school, and no fancy computer apps? Because the people around them speak multiple languages: It's part of the culture. But also, sadly, it's because of a history of colonialism and the predominance of English in the world. French, Urdu, English, Patois. These folks switch between numerous linguistic codes with utter facility from an early age. It's a natural part of their culture. People in Africa (and Europe) expect multilingualism...
I couldn't find any references to this tool in the blogs or forums, so I wanted to put this out there.
I use A Web Whiteboard (AWW) found at https://awwapp.com for all my online tutoring needs. No download, registration, or install necessary... and it's completely free! It also has zero ads or any other clutter you might associate with any free tool. It appears the developers behind AWW make their money by selling a premium product to those interested in that sort of thing, but I've found the free tool more than enough for my needs.
It has pretty much everything I'm looking for in a whiteboard tool: multiple colors, incredibly simple to invite students to join the board, cross-platform (any student with an internet connection can use it, and it works in every browser, as far as I can tell), and there is an option to save the images you create so you and your students can have material for reference later.
The only conceivable drawback...
Physics students make up the lion's share of my current teaching efforts here at Wyzant. I've stuck mostly to AP and the first-year undergraduate level of physics, specifically in the non-calculus-based version of physics.
For non-calc physics, the mathematical skills required are surprisingly low. Since students at that level are rarely (if ever) asked to derive or define equations, the only math they need to succeed is the most basic form of algebra - we're talking about adding and subtracting variables from both sides of the equation! Without exception, every physics student I teach knows how to do at least that much. So why do they need our help?
My theory is that as a tutor, physics is best taught as a puzzle game. My students' classroom teachers provide the rules of the game at the beginning of every unit, and those rules are nothing more than the various equations and constants relating to whatever topic the students are learning at the time.
There are many arguments schools give for having Latin as a language course: Its being the basis for a host of other romance languages; its use in the legal or medical fields; and even (which is a bit far-fetched in my mind) for forming the mind to function more logically. Students who are obliged to take Latin will inevitably question reasons such as these or any reason a teacher or headmaster might give for studying Latin... and rightly so. If students are not satisfied with the answers teachers give, new answers should be sought, answers that get to the heart of the matter of “why Latin?”
Anyone who speaks a handful of different languages can tell you that when they speak those languages they can sometimes take on a very different character. When I am with a group of Italian friends my way of communicating becomes much more ebullient, my need for personal space is instantly shed and an exaggerated intonation is applied to every word I say. Moreover, my facial features are...
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:
There is very little emphasis these days on teaching programming, in spite of the fact that technology is becoming more and more a dominant aspect of our lives. Perhaps this is because many programmers are self-taught, used to working alone on projects, and therefore the assumption is that students will learn programming "as they go" or "on their own". This is unfortunate because I think that this aversion to traditional instruction and the preference for "self-taught" programmers leaves some people who want to learn in the dust.
I have lately become interested in rectifying this problem. A few of my clients have discussed the option of learning programming through tutoring sessions with me. I think that if I had been able to avail myself of such an option when I was first learning to program, I might have had a much easier time in learning how to properly use computers as the powerful tools that they are.
I believe, however, that...
I enjoy having students at opposite ends of the learning timeline. I have had elementary school students, college students, and everyone in between. It is fun for me as a lifelong learner to work with such different clients. When I was teaching I had a homogeneous group of middle or high school students learning science. Now I have an elementary student and a college student at the same time. It helps me to stay sharp in my own learning and teaching. It also helps me to stay grounded when thinking about individual learners. By watching the struggles a third grader has in math I get ideas about how to help a college student studying chemistry. There are commonalities among all learners that emerge as themes and patterns. I am thoroughly enjoying my time as a tutor and look forward to learning even more from my tutees.