National Honors Society (NHS) members are required to offer tutoring services before school from 7:00 until 7:30, and after school from 2:30 to 3:00. They are available to answer any questions students might have about difficult content from classes that the members have already completed. In two years with the organization, and many afternoons waiting to offer help to people, I have never once had a student attend a tutoring session. Many other members report similar experiences.
Manual has one of the toughest high school curriculums in the country, and NHS is offering students a free service that will help them understand it. So why aren’t they coming for help?
Part of the issue is that many students don’t know that this option is available to them. NHS has never really advertised when and where the tutoring sessions are, and Freshmen are not given much information about them. The sessions were moved this year from the Library to the back room of the Guidance office following the new library rules which prohibit students from being in the library before school. Even students who know that the tutoring exist may not be aware of the new location.
However, the issue expands beyond ignorance. Because Manual is a school full of intelligent, high-achieving, and ultimately successful students, there exists an irrational fear of failure and a desire to keep up academic appearances.
Students aren’t asking for help because they’re afraid of looking stupid.
Of course, this is completely ridiculous. Manual thrives because its students specialize. However, the great unspoken truth about attending a school like Manual is that it can be completely stressful. When a high level of achievement is expected, students have trouble admitting they are struggling.
Students who do require extra help seem to turn to other sources. They ask parents, trusted friends, and very occasionally, their teachers. Those who can afford it go to private tutoring institutions. While all of these things are fine, they are not ideal. Parents and friends often have not taken the same class that the student has, or, they are learning at the same time that the student is. Private tutors are expensive and not easily accessible in many areas in the city. Teachers, of course, are the best teachers, but many don’t have the time for private meetings with every student.
Tutoring with older students is truly the ideal. It is offered five days a week, students have already taken the classes and understand the expectations of them, and they are able to communicate effectively with other students.
If students don’t admit to their own weaknesses and ask each other for help when they need it, there is no way to make progress- individually or as a school.