Seeing Things

So I’m meeting again with one of my science tutees. As usual, I started off by asking what he wanted to work on that day.

He didn’t know. Not because he’s a slacker. But because, he explained in earnest and slightly frustrated confusion, because he wasn’t sure what precisely it was that he was having trouble with.

It took some reassuring on my part that This is okay, and that figuring out where one is having problems is part of the whole learning and tutoring processes. You have to be able to identify where and how things aren’t going well before you can address the issues.

So we sat down with the materials and started going over different ways of reviewing things, as I asked him what had or hadn’t worked well for him before as studying techniques. And not surprisingly, he couldn’t say. Meaning, he wasn’t able to answer that question simply from my verbal enquiry. It was also difficult to pull up random examples just off the top of his head. His experiences had not been encoded into his memory as analyses, so the search came up empty. And I quite understood that. After all, if he already knew what he needed in the way of study methods that worked well for him, he wouldn’t be in such need of tutoring! Sometimes we tutor content, and sometimes (like here) we tutor process. And process is trickier, because people don’t learn things the same way (e.g. flash cards don’t work for everyone).

Further into the session, the stress levels were getting reduced, and we were able to focus on a particular issue. He had to be able to distinguish between pictures of different kinds of human tissues, and in the study lab had run into frustration trying to explain to someone else that he “couldn’t see” what they were talking about.

Ah-ha … now I understood what was going on. Read the rest of this entry »


Booster Pack

Sometimes you just get so run down that you can’t even remember what-for you were trying to find your get-up-and-go. You’ve been so engulfed in the Papierkrieg, so overwhelmed by the endless supplies of idiots that fill the world, and so repeatedly halted by your own internal difficulties that trying to find yet another work-around is too much to ask. On days like that, there isn’t enough chocolate, caffeine or ale to recharge the spirit.

So I like to collect quotes. Although I’ve looked through a few quote books, I’ve found them generally uninspiring. I believe that quotes should have a gritty, piercing quality to them, rather than being merely clever turns of phrase, or blandly “morally uplifting”. I have quite the motley collection on a number of topics, and not surprisingly, they’re not the kinds of categories or quotes that Mr Famous’ Big Book of Quotations is likely to contain.

In the US, Chinese restaurants often bring with your dinner bill some fortune cookies (instead of mints). These are twice-folded crispy cookies with a small paper “fortune” (trite bits of wisdom or predictions) inside. Here’s to hoping that a few of the goodies from my quote box serve you better than those insipid cookies!

“If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.”
~Audre Lorde

“You may be a geek, you may have geek written all over you; you should aim to be one geek they’ll never forget. Don’t aim to be civilized. Don’t hope that straight people will keep you on as some kind of pet. To hell with them; they put you here. You should fully realize what society has made of you and take a terrible revenge. Get weird. Get way weird. Get dangerously weird. Get sophisticatedly, thoroughly weird and don’t do it halfway, put every ounce of horsepower you have behind it.”
~Bruce Sterling Read the rest of this entry »