Finally a Subject I’m Qualified to Tutor

There have been many different school projects and assignments I’ve been called upon to help teach over the years. I’ve helped make castles and collages. I’ve done more algebra than I ever thought I’d need to again. I’ve spent hours going over how to organize and prioritize. And each time I’ve done any of these things, I’ve done it willingly and cheerfully, often sitting down with the material a few minutes before I was called on to tutor the subject. If there’s one thing 13 years of grade school and 8 years of college have taught me, it’s how to consume information and give it back in a way that will fit the mold of what’s being asked.

But none of these assignments have ever really played to my strengths. Not my true strengths, at any rate. In many ways, I’ve felt like Inigo Montoya, fencing away with my left hand and doing a more than adequate job, but never really allowed to shine and put my full educational prowess to use.

Not until last week, at least.

Tomas is in 10th grade honors English now, and I discovered a bit late in the game that he had been assigned to write essentially a five paragraph essay on The Lord of the Flies. I read over what he had written, and as soon as I did, I broke out in a smile and switch my sword to the right hand.

Finally, all those years of learning and teaching and writing could be put to use! If you want to use something a bit more sinister than Princess Bride, it also felt kind of like the Emperor in Return of the Jedi, bragging about just what the Death Star was capable of.

Of course, it was on The Lord of the Flies, which was a hole in my educational upbringing. I’ve never read the book. (I know. I’m a terrible person.) But that just made things more exciting. I quickly brought myself up to speed on the main events of the novel. Enough so that I knew generally what we were dealing with and what questions to ask Tomas to turn him to the text looking for evidence to support his claims.

The biggest trick was to make sure I wasn’t just writing the paper. I already know I can write a solid five paragraph essay. The goal is to teach Tomas how to do the same thing. In this case, he’d already picked out the arguments he wanted to make and the examples he wanted to use. I just had to find a way to tie those arguments together into a concrete thesis statement and go over the importance of well-crafted topic sentences. That might not sound like fun to you, but compared to trying to wrack my brain to remember how to apply the quadratic formula the right way?

This was a walk in the park.

It felt even better when he got his grade back and had significantly improved it. A definite #parentingwin moment.

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