Joshua, The Tutor

Joshua at a recent trip to the campus of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, VA

Rather than delve into current politics, I’d like to take the opportunity to discuss some of what I’ve been up to in the last several months (as my posts aren’t quite as frequent as they have been in the past.  Well, as some of my readers might remember, in the spring semester of 2015 I served as a political science tutor for a student at JMU.  It seemed he appreciated my services and hired me again for the following fall semester too.  However, in December he graduated and although I haven’t spoken to him since then, I certainly hope he has found meaningful employment wherever he happens to reside.

Halfway through the fall semester of 2016, I received an email from another JMU student, this time a student was looking for assistance in her world history class.  With the experience from the previous year under my belt along with my knowledge and passion for the subject, I took the position.  I quickly discovered that much of her class was an exploration of political world history, knowing about leaders, peoples, and the relationships between them (which sometimes led to armed conflict).  Given that politics is such a passion of mine, I already knew much about topics such as WWI, WWII, the Shah, the Cuban Revolution.  However, I was surprised to find that the professor explored areas as life in German Southwest Africa, the writings of Mao and Mussolini, and the lives of average women in the Soviet Union.  As such, I ended up spending considerable time in Carrier Library, reading through the assigned texts.  In some ways, it is ironic given my undergraduate degree in government; I felt more confident of the subject matter than the previous political science class I tutored and yet spent far more effort preparing for this one.

Were there frustrating moments?  Absolutely.  For example, I was greatly disheartened to discover that although the third exam covered world history from about 1880 to 1945, the only question on the test was about Afghanistan.  With so many political and societal upheavals going on during this time period, it didn’t make sense to me why the exam would be so narrowly focused.  After all, it was supposedly world history, not merely the history of one country in Asia and their relationship to the British Empire.

Nevertheless, despite this setback, I found this tutoring experience to be particularly rewarding, and I don’t mean monetarily.  Yes, I did receive payment for my efforts, of course, but I really enjoyed learning more about world history and sharing this knowledge with my student.  Sometimes, I would explain more about world events than what was presented in the assigned readings, including details of what happened prior to them as well as how they changed the future.  I began to look forward to our sessions eagerly; sometimes they were weekly, sometimes they were multiple times per week.  We worked hard to get through the textbook and the other articles.

Now that it’s over, I have to say that that I enjoyed this job more than any I have had since I began writing this blog back in mid-2008.  There was something about learning new material alongside my previous knowledge and then imparting this information to aid my student’s success.  Although I wish that I could say that I was able to transform this student’s failing grade into an A, as I did with my first student, given that it was a good bit later in the semester, I’m happy that she ended up passing the class.  And, she told me that if she took another history or political science class, she would be certain to reach out to me again.

At this point, I have no idea when or if the next student will seek me out and my next tutoring opportunity will come along.  But, I hope that it does, because I really enjoyed it.  And, as they say, “find a job you love, and you’ll never have to work another day in your life.”  One day we will see a return of Joshua, the Tutor, or perhaps even Joshua, the Teacher, or Joshua, the Professor.

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