Thinking [positively] about tutoring

Tutoring in social work is great experience in terms of the different type of thinking it challenges me to do. While I would not describe it as particularly interesting, I am glad I get to spend some time listening to conversations about ‘practice’. Where students choose to take the discussion and how they respond can be fascinating, but I often wonder if the course reading and lectures presented them with a few more skills for talking critically they would respond differently (or perhaps not?).

If I was putting together a social work subject perhaps I would have the students read Menzies Lyth on paranoid-schizoid defence systems and something using Bourdieu’s field theory (perhaps supplemented with some work by Wacquant). I like the idea of using Rancière, but I might get over that in the near future. Or perhaps I would just set Hobos, Hustlers and Backsliders by Teresa Gowan? However, [luckily] I am not putting together a course.

What such hypothetical lists do suggest to me is that I can find my way around a few different bodies of literature. I am certainly not an expert, and with the digital dissemination of information I am sure I never will feel like one. However, I do not feel like things are hopeless and, when something stumps me, I can use the work I am familiar with in order to orientate myself.

Figuring out how to provide the opportunities for others come to their own understandings is one of the big lessons I hope to start learning through tutoring. Perhaps, sort of like finding my way through ‘the literature’, it is a matter of having been in enough situations to then be able to feel okay when something unknown presents itself.

I do not think that teaching is really like reading, but in both cases I started off wondering how I will be able to work out what I even need to work out. With reading, I have had quite a long head start through train journeys spent with those first chunky readers sporting different colour covers purchased from the university book shop. In some ways, my experience of tutorials started at the same time. However, my student experiences were always mediated through my own minds and thoughts with [now embarrassingly] little regard to anybody else.

Perhaps next time I am reading junk on the internet I should make sure it is about tertiary pedagogy?

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