Monday was Tax Day in America. As I am someone who works primarily with teenagers, the day doesn’t seem to have much of a bearing on me or my business. However, a tutoring session last week reminded me that sometimes the most random topics work as “real life” examples that help students see things in a new light.
One of my current clients contacted me a couple weeks ago about getting general academic help—organization, catching up on late work, and trying to get more on track as a whole. During our first session, the inevitable question of “Why do I even have to learn some of this stuff?” came up.
As an English teacher, I fielded this question constantly, especially when Shakespeare was on the docket. Students would groan, “When am I ever going to have to know this in the ‘real world’?” Much to their surprise, I would often retort, “You won’t.” And then I would continue: “But working through difficult information is a life skill, and Shakespeare helps you cultivate that skill.” It didn’t take away the agony of wading through Elizabethan iambic pentameter, but it usually balanced out my students’ feelings of hopelessness about their ability (and need) to understand it.
Helping students grasp why they are doing the tasks they are doing is integral to helping them figure out how to problem solve in the task. We have all been there—staring down the barrel of an activity that we don’t want to do. Knowing how that task will help us in the end, while it doesn’t always increase our enjoyment, does contribute positively to our feelings about finishing it. This knowledge certainly helps us open our minds to the multiple ways to work through whatever task it might be, as well.
So, as my student from last week and I were discussing Geometry class and why it was (or was not) necessary, I was able to interject that math as a whole teaches us how to think logically and follow step-by-step processes. I told the student that being able to organize information transfers over to organization in general. And I encouraged this student to think about how learning organizational skills NOW could possibly help for the future. The example I gave? Keeping track of important tax documents so doing taxes (or having them done) becomes a less-complicated process.
One of my passions is helping high schoolers apply their learning on a more global scale—outside of the classwork they so often see as punishing drudgery. Obviously, there are many things we all learned in high school that don’t play a part in the day-to-day. But teens connect more readily to material, even the most boring of material, when they have some reason behind WHY they have to do whatever it is they are being asked to do, and if they are connecting with the material, they are also going to be better able to see how their own thinking and problem-solving skills apply.
If you or anyone you know needs help in any of these areas (or with anything else academic or standardized test-related), don’t hesitate to contact me! My direct contact information is on the Home page or you can send me a message through the “Contact” page.
During my freshman year of college at Valparaiso University, I began almost every one of my essays with a famous quote or set of song lyrics that I believed perfectly encapsulated whatever I was about to attempt to convey in my writing. I finally had a professor who called me on it. He pointed out that choosing a lyric or quote that mentioned my paper topic wasn’t the same as direct support for my thesis. More poignantly, he suggested that starting with someone else’s words perhaps wasn’t the best way to convince the reader that I myself had something interesting to say.
And yet, as I sat down to write this first blog post for the Carson Academics website, I found myself Googling quotes to get my brain churning. I knew what I wanted to write about, so topic was no problem. But I guess not much has changed—as long as I’ve been a writer, beginnings have been challenging. What has changed is my self-awareness about why I’m seeking to use someone else’s words when my own will suffice: I stall out (and feel a little scared of where I might end up) unless I feel a strong sense of purpose about how I’ve begun; and in these stalled-out moments, sometimes the words and ideas of others feel sturdier than my own.
I think this stalled-out-before-I’ve-even-started feeling is a common struggle for anyone beginning a new task, whether it’s an adult embarking on a work project or a student learning a new concept. When we don’t know how something is going to turn out, beginnings feel especially important. This is only emphasized all the more in our everyday language when we remind each other about getting off on the right foot or scold one another about getting up on the wrong side of the bed. Apparently, how we begin is crucial to where we end.
Currently, I’m in the midst of a BIG beginning. This is the second time I have gone into business for myself as Carson Academic Consultants, and it feels the same as the first time—scary and exciting and overwhelming and gratifying. However, I’m pleased to report that there is one major difference between the two launches of Carson Academics. This time around, I’m reaching out for help and asking for advice from the many smart, business-minded, creative people who make up my tribe of supporters and encouragers. Eight years ago, “being in business for myself” meant “being in business by myself.” But my solitude was self-inflicted.
Helping students and parents feel less alone is one of the major reasons I’m thrilled to be returning to this business. My college professor’s advice about building solely on my own words and ideas was good for writing, but I’m not sure it transfers to other areas of life. Just as I’m learning from the more experienced business minds around me, getting experienced help with the challenges of high school academics, standardized testing, and college planning is a smart way to navigate those obstacles. I take tremendous pride in facilitating student success and empowering students to find their own sense of purpose, and I believe that I have much to offer my clients.
If you or anyone you know is looking for that sturdy and reliable source of information about high school academics, standardized testing, or college planning, please reach out via this website (see the “Contact” tab), or “Like” my Carson Academic Consultants Facebook page and send me a message that way. I’m looking forward to hearing from you!