Tutor Tales: Volume 24
Here are some quick stories from Tutor Land, because I know Mrs. Darwin likes them . . . =)
I'm starting to think of Angel Delight as my "Mini Me." I've never had to adapt my learning style to hers; we just match.
She doesn't think I'm odd when I teach her how to remember that Virac is the capital of Catanduanes by imagining a cat on a sand dune in Iraq. And we both understand perfectly why it's too bad that the capital of Camarines Norte is Daet, while the capital of Camarines Sur is Pili.
"It's the pili nuts that should come first," she told me, "because eating too many is the reason Camarines needs to go on a daet."
And when I said, "That's EXACTLY what I was thinking!"--I was telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
So you should have seen our faces when we were informed that the province which produces the most pili nuts is neither Camarines Norte nor Camarines Sur, but Albay.
Angel Delight is also a natural at finding that "one word" I told you about a few Writing Diary entries ago. (Entry #22, to be exact.) Our word for Region IV-B is tourism: it helps both of us remember that there are rare trees and birds in its forests and rare animals on its islands, which is why the locals would rather invest in conservation and resorts than in agriculture. (Everything follows from there.) And for Region V, we remember water: after all, this is the region which has a huge crater lake, a fish festival rather than a harvest festival, and the world-famous fluvial procession for Our Lady of Penafrancia.
If I had had a tutor like myself when I was in the fourth grade, I would have totally rocked Hekasi.
Meanwhile, Scrap Metal and I are spending his semestral break going over the vocabulary he should have picked up in kindergarten. At the moment, we're memorising shape words. In case anyone was wondering how to do very, very basic geometry in Filipino, here is our vocabulary list:
Bilog -- circle
Tatsulok -- triangle
Parisukat -- square
Parihaba -- rectangle
Biluhaba -- oval
I wasn't too keen on using up more paper, so I told Scrap Metal that we'd "draw" the shapes on each other's backs. He did pretty well, although he told me my mga parihaba were too much like mga parisukat and vice-versa. Six years old and already an art critic.
You might wonder where I got this idea . . . When I was his age and my classmates and I had to sit on the floor for assemblies and whatnot--six-year-olds not being good enough for proper chairs--we made a game of tracing letters on each other's backs and guessing what words were being spelled out. He and I did a simpler variation of that. I wonder if he is old enough to reproduce on paper a whole drawing traced on his back. Something very basic, of course, such as a house: a triangle for a roof, a square for the body, a rectangle for the door, etc.
But he's not really a big fan of drawing. Every time he has to sketch anything more complicated than a couple of stick figures, he growls, "I go to normal school, not to drawing school."
* * * *
This week is Exam Week for Doctor Decimator. Due to a mix-up at the Internet cafe, where I print up all my documents, I didn't have the expected mock exam for Science when I arrived at his house the day before he had to sit for it. That is, I didn't have a hard copy. But I did have the file in the flash drive tucked into my pocket.
Doctor Decimator loved the novelty of answering an exam on his laptop instead of on paper. And I relished the rare sight of him smiling while dealing with one of my mock tests.
Very few of my students have ever picked up on this, but I have fun making tests. I like the creative challenge. So it's quite a letdown when students approach as they would a slow ride to the guillotine. Doctor Decimator's smile might not have been there for the desired reasons, but at least it was actually there!
And yesterday, when he told me that during the exam itself he had totally remembered the difference between commensalism and mutualism, I felt irrationally fulfilled.
* * * *
So the prize for Most Frustrating Tutee of the Week goes to . . . Rain Dancer!!!
You'd think she'd be more independent because she is in high school, but the girl can't work alone any more than my other kids can. =( Every time she has an essay due, I tell her that she has to finish a first draft before I get there, because it will save time and she will learn how to edit her writing after it seems "done." And every time, I arrive at her apartment to find that she hasn't written a single word.
A few meetings ago, I had to help her write a three-page film critique. First, I thought I'd put my foot down by asking her to write her first draft right there in front of me. Then she'd know I was serious about her needing to be prepared before I see her. But after twenty minutes of watching her type a sentence, then delete it . . . then type another sentence, then delete it . . . then type yet another sentence, then delete it, I realised there was another problem.
So I took her place at the keyboard and asked her to talk about the movie. Guided by her teacher's very specific outline, I started asking her questions: "What did you think of the setting? . . . What did you think of the characters? . . . What did you think of the musical score? . . ." While she answered, I played stenographer. She filled up two and a half pages that way--to her great surprise.
Before I left that evening, I told her: "Rain Dancer, I think there are two things you need to work on: your self-confidence and your focus. I've watched you try to start your essay six times, and each time, you had a different idea from the one before. So you had at least six decent ideas in you. But none of them got used because you erased them all before you even got off the ground. When you're writing your first draft, don't worry about grammar and punctuation. We can fix everything in the editing. Just keep going and get all your thoughts down. I won't always be here to interview you like that."
One factor in my frustration is the fact that her guardian really haggled my rate down when we were discussing this job. I took the deal anyway because: a) Rain Dancer lives only a few buildings away from me, so "transportation" is free; b) a friend with experience tutoring South Koreans told me that the agreed-upon amount is pretty good, considering what they're usually willing to pay; c) I miss teaching high school students; and d) her guardian is the mother of a former student of mine, who is currently majoring in English Literature because I inspired her so much. (Yeah, I'm that easy.)
Of course, this isn't the whole story where Rain Dancer is concerned--just the biggest one of the week. Things are bound to look up soon. (Right?)