Private Tutor As A Collapse Job

David Trammel's picture

I'm putting this one in the "Your Craft" Circle because I want to focus not on the discussions on race and equity, but on the mechanics of teaching. We know from posts by Greer that there will be a need for private tutors and educators in the Long Descent. The controversy about just what the focus of public education is already happening, as it becomes less about teaching and more about political and social agendas. And the collapse of the college educational system as costs and accreditation inflation continues, is getting plainer by the day. Then there is the Pandemic. I have several friends who are teachers and they are heading for other jobs soon, abandoning long time careers.

A smart teacher would think of ways to stand out in the tutor field, as a way to make their wages and continue to do what they love, that is make a difference with children. This article, if you ignore the social issues and focus more on the mechanics of teaching not tied to the established dogma, seems to me to be one way to adapt older teaching methods for a younger more diverse (both economically, socially and class wise) customer base.

That and learning how to barter for goods, rather than just money.

I was in several fast track programs while in high school and the ones that stood out were they ones that used conventual methods to teach. I can remember learning how to win at Tic Tac Toe in a Math class, as a way to understand logic. And another in History that had us giving short oral presentations each Friday, after a week of research in the library.

"Is math education racist? Debate rages over changes to how US teaches the subject"

Algebra classes taught by Nadine Ebri look different than the ones you probably took in school. Students practice equations through singing, dancing and drawing. Activities are sculpted around their hobbies and interests: anime, gaming, Minecraft. Problem-solving is a team sport, rather than an individual sprint to the right answer. Ebri, a math teacher and tech specialist for Duval County Schools in Florida, is using new techniques designed to promote equity. If kids of color, girls and low-income students engage, they'll be more likely to pursue high-level math classes, the argument goes. That can open doors to competitive colleges and lucrative careers. After Ebri switched to emphasizing real-world problems and collaboration, her students, most of whom are Black, improved their scores on Florida's math exam in 2020-21 – even with 1 in 3 learning from home.

lathechuck's picture

Many students, when they look at the world around them, don't see anyone applying the stuff (e.g., math) that they're being driven to learn. "If I can add up my grocery bill, and keep from overspending my checking account (or credit limit), why do I need to learn algebra, geometry, or calculus?" is a question that I never heard a good answer to, when I was a student. Personally, I was willing to proceed on faith, that There Was A Plan, and I would understand it, sooner or later. But a lot of students don't see that.

So, now that I've been working as an electrical engineer for about 40 years, let me answer the question. The communications technologies that everyone takes for granted are, fundamentally, mathematical algorithms running on computers. These algorithms depend crucially on mastery of complex-valued arithmetic, Fourier Transforms, calculus, and abstract algebra (the algebra of finite fields). Middle school math prepares students for high school math, which prepares them for the college-level math that actually gets into the smart phone and the cell tower. Not to be too smug, because these are the "flowers" growing at the tips of the modern technology "tree", and it could all crumble away in a generation, but it's been a pretty good ride for folks like me.

A motivated student can learn a lot through self-study, and I'm afraid that my own efforts as a tutor were never up to the task. Maybe we never had time to shoring up missing foundations, or maybe my student was in too much of a hurry to unlearn her fear of math.

Every math education should include statistics!

It's so easy to lie with statistics and charts and graphs. If more people knew how to read a graph, paying close attention to how the X and Y axis are labeled, they'd see how they're being misled.

Statistics let you figure out odds at the track, how real odds are, and when something matters and when it doesn't.

I'd also like to see better teaching of writing skills: how to write a report on the fly, revise, and rewrite.
Public schools do a terrible job of teaching writing because it's time-consuming to grade dozens of essays every week.
But that's the only way a student can learn to write: by doing, by revising, by rewriting, and by learning how to self-edit and be edited by someone else.

David Trammel's picture

I was in a supervisor training series while at McDonnell Douglas Aircraft back in the 80s. You did about two years of twice a week classes then got a certificate to apply for a supervisor role. Among all the various courses we had one on how to write memos. You'd be surprised (not you Teresa I'd bet) but most people on how you can't just jot down a few sentences and have a good informative memo. I would bet there would be a lot of use in something like that even now, considering some of the business emails I've seen are terrible.

And I agree 100% on teaching statistics.

ClareBroommaker's picture

Presently, tutoring is largely part-time work, done during after-school hours, on weekends, and summers. Just something to consider.

Practical lessons can be very engaging when they mesh with the student's interests... yes. Unfortunately, if the teacher/book decides to do this by using lots of word problems about sports when you are a student who knows little and cares less about sports, or actively hates sports more than anything else in school, this is substantially worse than completely abstract math problems. This my school, and I was that student... if they'd been asking about growing plants or how much baking soda to change water pH for tropical fish they'd have had my riveted attention, but they never ever did and I hated math word problems.

This would probably work better in small groups or individual lessons than in large classes.

Justin Patrick Moore's picture

My daughter has been working as a nanny the past few years. This is obviously for the wealthier set. She's in her mid twenties, and is really good with kids, so it works out well for her, as a job she likes. It's also less stressful to her than the other jobs she's had in retail and restaurants, a good fit. I can see the situation with schools getting to the point where those who can afford nanny's would also have them be tutors -and this could continue as the kids got older.

For the aristocracy of the past the tutor/personal teacher was the way to get an education. I can see that happening again, easily.

The au pair is another job similar to this. I'm not sure how many foreigners will still be clamoring to come to America, but its an interesting model ~ especially for getting in good with the upper classes.

Anyway, I'm not sure how many tutors will be needed among the middle classes and lower - I guess it depends.

Mentorship however is always needed. While mentorship might not pay, mentors would be rewarded in rich relationships, and have younger helper's /apprentices etc. for their own work.