In your experience as a writing tutor, what has been the biggest struggle for students that you have helped?
In my experience, as corny as this may sound, the biggest struggle for students has been a lack of confidence in their own abilities as a writer. A lot of students believe they are not good writers because they are unable to tell the teacher what he or she wants to hear in words. The problem is, that is not the purpose of writing. Most of the time I have found that the ideas in student's heads are great ones to write about, but they are too concerned with what the teacher might think that those ideas never end up on paper. Writing is all about an expression of ideas through a written language. Sure the structure and forms of writing can be taught in a classroom, but expression and interpretation can not. I have seen first hand the anxiety writing causes for a lot of individuals and the majority of it stems from a lack of confidence. Once students have overcome their own anxieties, their performance and attitudes drastically change for the better.
What is the point of studying our history when it happened so long ago and has no bearing on our lives today?
It does not matter if something happened yesterday, last week, ten years ago, or hundreds to thousands of years ago because everything in the past has led us here today. There are so many paths that we take in our lives that resulted in where we are today that many of us will never quite know how we came to be. History, like our own lives, is made up of several events and changes that created our present day and age. Individuals not only study history to understand our present, but also to perhaps predict some of our future. Compared to the rest of the world, the United States has a very young history, but wow have we done so much in such a short amount of time. It amazes me to know how far we as a country we have come, and yet how far we still have yet to go. We study history not to simply know dates and facts, but to comprehend how our society came to be and how to possibly change our future.
What do you notice is a student's biggest struggle when it comes to an English class?
With so many students taking classes that demand a right answer or are completely fact based, it becomes difficult for students to think outside the box into more abstract realms. For example, the majority of core classes such as History, Science, and Math are all fact based subject areas. However, English is not. Sure there are reading and writing methods that follow a certain pattern, but the English subject area is so much more than that. English is about understanding through interpretation what the author is attempting to say, jumping into the minds of characters both fictional and nonfictional, caring about subject matters that affect all of us globally, and most importantly, expressing ourselves as individuals. Many students either do not understand this or in their frustrations of not finding a correct answer believe that the subject is useless. They could not be more wrong. The biggest struggle for most students is believing that they have something to say but never uttering a word because they also believe they are wrong. The skills taught in an English classroom can be taken and used in all other subject areas, but the struggle becomes having students realize this.