Thursday, March 31, 2011


This year would be my second year of tutoring at University of New South Wales. Like last year, I am teaching "WWW in Design and Presentation" to first year students; but unlike last year, I am also teaching "Modeling and Visualization" or otherwise known as 3D Modeling.

I decided to change my approach to tutoring students. Last year I was not all that proactive (sticking only to given material), less communicative, and worst of all, plain money-hungry. I was still inexperienced, in general, and still a bit intimidated by the job and colleague.

After 2010, which, by the way ladies and gentleman, was one insane year, my personality changed for the better and worse. This time around, my approach is to work as what resembles a Piagetian teacher.
  • "Jean Piaget believed that children made moral judgments based on their own observations of the world and not in the face of adult wishes to the contrary"
  • studied Educational Psychology as one of my electives in 2009

That said, I'm not treating them as kids. They have just started university and the changes brought about from that is a psychological attack that all of us have suffered. And it is because we all suffered it, which is why I have so much empathy for them. We can't expect them to work on our level yet, when they have only covered the basics. It is not good for them, psychologically and emotionally. The pressure is intense.

The most common example is:
  1. bombardment of material expected to master in short periods
  2. grades not meeting expectations (especially students wishing to transfer)
  3. disappearance of social life (friends walking their own paths or lack of availability)

And the most common reaction to it is:
  1. loss of sleep and appetite
  2. disorientation
  3. flash changes in mood - one moment laughter, next moment sadness and/or anger
  4. stress

I know these things happen. I know from experience, and when I socialize/converse with the students, I can feel it. I can feel their pain and frustration. I was semi-suicidal during my first year of university. When I look at some of them, I see myself through them; how I was, how I felt.

I believe that if I can create an environment where they can learn and work, without the pressure that university places on them, even if it is only for 2 hours, I have succeeded as a tutor. If they could just forget about the stress, even if it is only for 2 hours, that would be a job well done.

Yes, you cannot run from your problems, but if you learn to deal with it, without frustrating over it in the process, you come out much happier and much more relieved.

As a tutor for first year students, I need to make sure that these people feel like they can do it. It's getting them prepared for university life. It's edging them closer to the intensity, but not quite there yet. It's walking before jogging before sprinting.

If you believe my approach is wrong, then you tell me why it is wrong. If you can't, don't question me.