If you have not read this week’s Washington City Paper, I encourage you to do so. Especially, there is an article called Hire Education that really sums up the frustrations of tutoring rich kids with entitlement issues and dealing with their parents, who often have entitlement issues. The article takes a hard look at these kids and paints them with a very negative brush, but not all is as bad as it seems in the article.
As a tutor myself, I can vouch for many of the experiences the author relates and found it reassuring that I am not the only one with clients who sometimes seem like they recently came off their meds. However, the difficult kids and parents are the exception, in my experience. Most kids are okay, regardless of why they seek out tutoring, and most parents are understanding when I assure them that I am an expert and know what I am doing.
Sure, I have had parents call and fuss at me, send nasty emails and even had one jerk of a father try to physically intimidate me. If I weren’t twice his size with greater strength and a longer reach, it may have bothered me. As it worked out, I let him know he should back off and I resumed tutoring his son.
Student issues include being inattentive, sometimes even snotty, feeling entitled to high grades or high SAT scores and generally not wanting to work. Another problem is having little unstructured time, with too much emphasis on academics and other school activities and not enough on enjoying being a kid. Helicopter parents shuttle them around from school to soccer to tutoring to study groups and in the end the high school graduates have no idea how to manage their own time or actually study in college, instead of having tutors tell them what to do.
I have also had parents who were very gracious, students who were polite and attentive and with those families it is a lovely time. To me what makes the difference when working with students is having kids who want to learn or are interested in the subject material. Whether they like the material or not, they should have a good attitude about it and at least be open-minded to learning it.
If you were ever curious about tutoring, I highly recommend it. Seeing kids absorb and integrate information is a blast. Take that article and my own complaints with a grain of salt. Most kids are good and most parents, when the rubber meets the road, simply want to help their kids. However, I can tell you with all certainty that helping kids get A’s instead of B’s or helping them get higher SAT scores is far less worthwhile or rewarding than helping kids with bigger issues, like literacy or their GED.
Having prepared many kids for both the SAT and GED, I will take an interested GED student any day over an interested SAT student. The pay is lower and the barriers higher, but getting someone over that hump means so much more opportunity that the trade-off is worth it.
So who wants to join me in shaping the minds of our future leaders? Before you answer, let me assure you that there is work to be had in this market because I have had enough of it for now and will be focusing more of my time and attention on my photography business. The kids? The parents? The last-minute test preparation? You can have it all.
This post appeared in its original form at DC Metblogs