When I was twenty, I knew everything. When I was twenty-five, I knew somewhat less; at least, I realised what I didn’t know. One wouldn’t think I’d still be surprised to realise there is something else I don’t know.
Formerly, everyone was better off with one-on-one teaching or tutoring. No matter the situation. No exceptions. Not up for discussion.
Now (one can see where this is going, no?)… about two-thirds of my students really need one-on-one. They are having problems in English, for many reasons, and need the constant attention to orient their brains around the concepts and words. Everything needs to be hashed out, and picked apart. They have detailed question after detailed question, and the explanation needs to answer only what is asked in that question.
The remaining third is, without a doubt, better off when there are other people in the room. Some of the students prefer having others of the same age/level, so they can discuss the same subjects if not the same texts; they like to toss ideas back and forth, letting each idea grow and evolve a little before they accept it. Others seem to prefer someone of an entirely different level, so they don’t really have to pay attention to the other conversations, but they don’t have the intensity of one-on-one; these students tend to work laboriously, popping their head up every once in a while to ask a question. Still others don’t seem to care who is in the room, they just want background noise, and the occasional conversation to distract them from a difficult task.
I’m not sure why I stuck to my universal one-on-one theory for so long. Certainly a general ego-centrism was involved: I don’t like having people around when I learn – go away, and leave me alone with my books! When I teach, I like my groups very small, because I feel like I’m missing things when there are too many people talking and thinking. (No matter how old I get, I don’t think I’ll ever be convinced 33 is a good class size.)
I suppose this works something along the lines of requiring music while one studies: true extroverts are not going to be content and able to focus on the work if there isn’t the noise and energy wafting around them.
Understanding the learning styles was fairly easy, even understanding the learning styles which were not mine. Understanding extroverts may prove a little more difficult….