On tutoring

I have two jobs in Paris. One of them is babysitting, one is tutoring. The student I tutor is a high school senior who is preparing to taking the international version of the French Bac exam (this isn’t the same as the IB exam). Basically what that means is that she has to prepare for all the same subjects as for the regular French L bac, but does them in English instead. So her English is already quite good; teaching her the language is not my job. I was hired to help her prepare to do literary analysis in English.
Margaux is really smart.Today was my second to last session with her, and I was thinking, as I often do as I leave her place (which is outside of Paris and thus takes a bus ride and a train commute to get to, though it’s not so bad from where I live), how much I enjoy it. Part of it is that she does a lot of my job for me. I am lucky that this early teaching experience happens to be with such a bright student, as it makes me enthusiastic about teaching; but also I have to remember that it goes well because she makes up for my weaknesses with her own quickness. I imagine teaching a less apt students would be harder.It’s also great because it is one hour a week that I spend just talking about what I like best, namely literature. I do spend time on lesson preparation ahead of time. Mostly we analyze poems, though we do fiction and essay extracts as well. It is fun to go back and review what I have learned these past years and try to transmit it to her. I try to show her things she won’t get in school. I have the impression that the French system is quite structured – from what I saw in my university classes, they put massive emphasis on the method of argumentation to the possible detriment of originality of thought.So we read some Gerrard Manly Hopkins which may have been over her head, but she liked it any way and I had way too much fun with that.

I think this job may have been more useful to me than any of the courses I have taken this year. Becoming a private tutor was interesting, because I myself had a private French tutor growing up. My tutor knew me since I was two, because she also taught my older sisters, and taught me from age 9 to 18. In all those years I don’t think I thought about what her job was like. Unlike being a teacher, the tutor’s job is not to supply a primary lesson, but to fill gaps and enrich what is already there. To taylor the lesson to the student. I’m grateful I had that growing up.

Protip: I found the job through a posting in the classifieds on fusac.

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