Research has shown that students will be motivated to learn, and learn more, when they like the teacher. This means that a teacher must be able to evoke positive feelings about the teacher and the subject. The difficulty arises when teachers and tutors confuse being friendly with trying to be a friend. A tutor can be much more effective by being friendly rather than by trying to be a friend. Tutors can use the following strategies to help their students understand and comprehend the material they are working with.
Act as an equal: avoid appearing superior or snobbish
Be dynamic: students appreciate someone who is active and enthusiastic
Be comfortable: be at ease with yourself
Concede some control: allow the student to lead and pursue knowledge
Show interest: be interested in what they have to say and remember their likes, hobbies and interests.
Be optimistic: convey a positive outlook. This will be contagious.
What are Friends For?
A young man once approached Socrates and asked to be given knowledge and understanding. Socrates took him down to the seashore, led him into the water, and forced his head under the waves. The youth struggled and when his resistance had nearly stopped, Socrates dragged him up on the shore.
Later, the youth asked why Socrates had acted as he did.
“When you were under the water, what was the one thing you wanted more than anything else?” asked Socrates.
“Air,” was the reply.
“When you want knowledge and understanding as badly as you wanted air,” said Socrates, “you won’t have to ask anyone to give it to you.”
Tutors do not give knowledge to students, they guide those students through the process of understanding.