Stepping into the world of full-time online education has been a challenging journey, especially for someone rooted in the principles of alternative education, where working with a child to develop confidence and understanding of a fairly tricky subject, is a long-term gradual process. Not to mention the added challenge of previously working in a school where genuine happiness of the child is the fundamental basis of education #Summerhillschool
In this blog post, I’ll share my reflections on this shift, emphasizing the importance of intrinsic motivation, happiness, and the student-centric approach that defines my teaching philosophy and how, so far, working with students in relatively short teaching blocks (I.e online tuition compared to being in a classroom environment) can still bring about positive change, confidence and raising aspirations in the students I work with.
What should the essence of education be?
With A.S. Neil’s philosophy of education, the focus extends beyond conventional teaching methods.
It’s about tapping into students’ intrinsic motivations—do they genuinely care about the subject? Do they aspire to do better, and, above all, are they happy?
This approach revolves around putting students in control of their lives and valuing their thoughts and feelings irrespective of conventional educational norms.
It is of great sadness to me that this is regarded as “alternative” education and that happiness is not at the forefront of all schooling!
The Dynamics of Intrinsic Motivation
What sets apart the students thriving in online learning?
It’s the ones who actively sought tuition, expressing a genuine desire to improve.
These students are empowered by taking charge of their education, and approaching their parents with a clear goal—”I want to do better, and I’d like a tutor.” The intrinsic motivation propels them forward, leading to remarkable progress and success.
Allowing children to feel in charge of their lives, and their decisions, and being respected from an early age helps foster intrinsic motivation.
The Pitfalls of External Pressures
On the flip side, when students find themselves enrolled in tuition at the urging of well-meaning parents, their progress can sometimes be hindered.
These students, driven to excel in subjects they may not find inherently enjoyable, often require additional support to fully engage, leading to slower assimilation and overall advancement.
This underscores the delicate balance needed to ensure that education is a source of empowerment rather than an external imposition.
It is worth remembering that we humans are social beings, and tearing away a child from his friends (online or in person) can feel like a big imposition for them.
If they do not want to engage in online lessons, this only compounds any difficulties in the relationship between the parent and the child.
However, it is worth noting that many other factors contribute to a lack of engagement, with confidence playing a significant role.
Once students experience success in a subject, the subsequent boost in confidence becomes a catalyst for intrinsic motivation.
Mitigating the sense of being pressured into lessons involves taking thoughtful, measured steps.
Engaging in open and honest conversations with the child about the reasons behind considering tuition can make a substantial difference.
Explaining how grasping lesson content and theories can positively impact confidence and foster a sense of empowerment sets the stage for a more supportive educational environment.
Building Rapport and Trust (You can ignore everything above, this is the important bit!)
Regardless of the entry point into online learning, building rapport and trust between tutor and tutee emerges as the linchpin of success.
As a tutor, my role goes beyond providing exam insights and tips. It involves encouraging students, instilling wonder about the world of science, discussing broad theories to engage them, recognizing and working with their strengths while nurturing their weaknesses or vulnerabilities, and providing fun and engaging lessons.
Transitioning into full-time online education has deepened my understanding of the pivotal role intrinsic motivation and happiness play in a student’s learning journey and that this is achievable in both classroom and online settings.
Whether students actively seek tuition or are guided by well-meaning parents, fostering a connection built on trust and rapport remains crucial.
As I continue to navigate this dynamic landscape, my commitment to empowering students, valuing their individuality, and creating a positive learning environment remains unwavering.