Professional Tutoring vs Quick-Fix Tutoring
The Eye of the Storm Syndrome
During the initial consultation and assessment, I warn new students and their parents about something I’ve come to know as The Eye of the Storm Syndrome.
The Eye of the Storm Syndrome is very common; and it is, in my opinion, the most difficult hurdle professional tutors have to overcome early in the tutor/student relationship.
Let’s get the Quick-Fix Tutoring out of the way first, though. Quick-Fix Tutoring is what we at Westside Tutoring and Testing Services call putting out fires. It should be fairly obvious what I mean by putting out fires…it’s simply dealing with whatever is next and, usually, what is causing the student the most trouble at the moment.
The Quick-Fix Tutor may be adequate in the short-run, hence the designation as a Quick-Fix Tutor, but they are generally not able to teach students the most important study skills of all:
- How to study
- How to read actively
- How to manage time
- How to research
- How to outline chapters in order to prepare for an exam
- How to think creatively
- How to write creatively
- How to teach himself or herself…not just during the current school year but long term – So he of she does not need either a professional tutor or one specializing in the quick-fix!
Just ask yourself any one of these very simple questions:
- How many courses has your son or daughter had over the course of their entire educational experience that has actually taught him or her how to study…effectively?
- STEM aside, if our kids cannot read critically, study actively using a system that works for them, and express themselves effectively…how far will they get?
- Have you heard of the effects of primacy and recency?
- Is your child overwhelmed by the sheer amount of material thrown at them day-in-and-day-out?
The above-mentioned questions, and skills, are just a few of the questions, skills, and issues a professional tutor and a professional tutoring organization will address with your child...must address…if they’re doing their job(s) right. And in all fairness, the quick-fix tutor will not have the time, or the skill, to address these issues. And again, in all fairness, that is not what they’re being hired for!
So what is The Eye of the Storm? And what does it have to do with hiring a tutor?
To understand The Eye of the Storm, let me walk you through an example. The names, schools, and all the rest are fictitious.
Jake and The Eye of the Storm
Jake Wilson is going into his sophomore year at St. Angelo’s High School for Boys. He comes from a middle-class family and has all the advantages. Everyone in Jake’s family understands the value of a good education and is committed to making sure all of the kids go to college. Not just college but a great school, one that will open doors once Jake graduates. Unfortunately, Jake struggled through his freshman year with a 1. 6 GPA; and, while there is no indication of ADD or ADHD, his parents are concerned and have decided not to wait until Jake struggles through another year before doing something about it.
Many parents are now doing what Jake’s mom and dad are doing, hiring a professional tutor for their son or daughter before they are drowning in bad grades, frustration, and depression. Proactive is the only way to be when it comes to a child’s education, particularly in this competitive world! Good grades and test scores are often the difference between college admission and not being able to attend college at all.
What if Jake fails to be admitted to Miami University (the only real institution in this story), the best public university in Ohio and the one almost every kid from Ohio dreams of attending? So, proactive is the only way to be and, much to his parents’ delight, Jake starts out with a bang!
Jake seems committed, and the professional tutoring he is getting in French, English and Grammar, Geometry, and World History are first rate…everything seems to be clicking. The proactive strategy seems to be paying off.
In fact, the proactive measures, including the hiring of a professional tutor, seem to have made Jake into a “new man!” Jake has worked his way from secretly feeling like something of a failure and being more than a little overwhelmed in his freshman year, to having a real sense of where he is going…all in just a few weeks!
All is good with the world, right?
You see, Jake sailed through the initial wall of the storm with the help of his professional tutor!
And Jake was not only receiving academic help during his first few weeks back in school, he was receiving plenty of positive reinforcement, as well.
In fact, Jake received equal parts tutoring and positive reinforcement during each session. Yes, Jake is on his way to becoming a “new man,” but the supports were just now being put in place…and there was still a lot be done.
Jake was in The Eye of the Storm:
- His grades were up
- His confidence was up
- He was taking on more responsibility at home
- He appeared to be taking on more responsibility at school
- He was being to feel he could go it alone and he was anxious to be his own man
All was right with the world!
You see, in Jake’s mind, and in his parents’ minds as well, the storm had passed. Additionally, Jake wanted more freedom, and mom and dad wouldn’t mind having a bit more money in the checking account. So it was agreed, Jake had made a complete turnaround and would no longer need the help of a professional tutor. If he did need a tutor, he could get the help of one of those quick-fix tutors who work for five bucks an hour…or maybe for free.
Remember: You get what you pay for!
Sure, there were a lot of five-buck-an-hour, quick-fix tutors around, and they wouldn’t require the sort of commitment or the sort of work that professional tutor required!
So all’s Jake with Jake, and he’s free to do his own thing!
Sadly, as the back wall of the storm approaches (i.e., more complex subject matter, term papers, essays, midterms, finals, etc.), Jake can’t bring himself to say anything to his mom or dad, he can’t bring himself to admit that he’s struggling again…because then he’d have to admit defeat. And that is something most students will never do!
The 12 Step programs define insanity as the act of doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result.
If you ask me about The Eye of the Storm Syndrome and how it compares to The 12 Step definition of insanity, I’d say they’re a bit different. I believe there’s a great deal of wishful thinking: the teenage kind, Jake’s kind; and it’s combined with a sense of relief (i.e., finances, time, etc): the parental kind.
Ultimately, the trajectory of Jake’s sophomore year is based on faulty reasoning and not enough experience, which is understandable!
So what happened?
Jake ran into the back side of the storm. Consequently, getting Jake back on the track he was on (a track to all As and Bs), will cost much more time, money, and effort.
I have had a lot of Jake’s over the past 30 years!
I have worked with a lot of Jake’s parents too!
The saddest thing is that, even after all this time, parents still go down that road. Interestingly, I often tell parents and students about The Eye of the Storm Syndrome during the initial consultation and assessment, hoping it will make a difference. Sadly, they still fall victim to the Sirens’ call. It’s often due to a combination of factors, many I’ve mentioned above.
The saddest thing about Jake’s story?
Many, many times, the student and the parents, especially the parents, won’t admit they took a wrong turn, that they made a mistake. Consequently, they won’t return to the same tutor, whether it’s me or someone like me (in the same business). Sadly, that does even more damage because, as in Jake’s case, the student quite literally starts back at square one!
And that can be devastating for “Jake!”
Let me know if you have a Jake, I’d love to work with him. I specialize in working with gifted students and students diagnosed with ADD, ADHD, Asperger’s syndrome, and the like. Don’t hesitate to call!
I also tutor students who are just working through a difficult period. We work with students regardless of the subject matter of level.
Finally, we work with students preparing for the PSAT, SAT, LSAT, ACT, GRE, GED, ASVAB, and others. If you don’t see it, ask!
If you need help? Any subject, any level, please call!
NOTE: We do not pick up when with students but we check the voicemail often!
Professor John P. J. “Jack” Zajaros, Sr.
Westside Tutoring and Testing Services
Lakewood, Ohio 44107
440-821-7018 (mobile – for quickest response)
PS, Please forgive any typos! The power and heat have been out for more than 4 days. We’ll proofread again in a day or so!