“Students Learn from People They Love”: Tynetta’s Reflections

Practical educational and civic transformation.

“Students Learn from People They Love”: Tynetta’s Reflections

At my work at DCTMI, I was recently introduced to an article by New York Times columnist David Brooks called “Students Learn From People They Love: Putting relationship quality at the center of education” and the title itself made me reflect on my own relationship with education.

In my personal experience, being taught five subjects at once made it difficult for me to grasp information. I would come home and not know how to do my homework, which concerned my parents. My parents would email the school asking, “Why isn’t my child getting all the information she needs from her teacher?” but that wasn’t the problem. The problem was that I couldn’t grasp the information because I had no emotional relationship with my teacher. The environment my teacher created made it hard for me to learn. I was not the best student, so I always felt like my teacher was out to get me. On top of that, she was very strict and had little patience.

It was not until fifth grade when my parents decided to get me a tutor. When I first met the tutor, I wasn’t too confident in him or in myself. I would meet the tutor every Monday and Wednesday evening at the center where he worked. How is someone going to teach me something in three hours that I couldn’t learn in six? Little did I know, it was very possible to do that.

My tutor’s name was Mr. Monty. I remember him being very kind and patient. If I did not understand something, he made sure to continue to go over it until I did. Mr. Monty was teaching me the same content as my teacher, but something was different. He created an environment where failure was okay, but he motivated me to overcome those failures. As David Brooks puts it, “Information is plentiful, but motivation is scarce” (2019). So yes, I was receiving the information just like every student in the class, but I was not motivated due to the disconnect between me and my teacher. Unlike my teacher, Mr. Monty was able to repeatedly explain things to me. He also took the time out to help me identify the areas I struggled in, so that I could understand the underlying concepts. I believe the interpersonal connection I built with him helped me perform better academically.

Today, I am a graduating senior at Trinity Washington University, and I got here with the help of a tutor who I needed in a critical stage of my life. There are so many children with the same story as me, but who do not have the help of a tutor or mentor as I did. DC Tutoring & Mentoring Initiative is a way to get people involved who can play that role, so that they can have their own success story.