Friday, October 01, 2004

Is it really intellect?

Before going to college, I never considered myself to be above average in intellect. Since coming to college, I still don't consider myself brilliant in any sense of the word. I suppose that is why it amuses me when people tell me I'm 'smart'. And ask me to tutor them and explain every subject under the sun to them.

It started here at Lee last semester in music theory and biology. A couple of students in each class would always come to me and ask if their answers were right, or if I would study with them for an exam (never mind that my studying with them was really only helpful to them). But I of course always said 'yes'. If I can understand something and someone else cannot, why shouldn't I assist them?

This semester, however, every other subject has been added. It began when I stopped to talk to a friend while they were doing Algebra. And they asked me a question (to which I knew the answer), and then they asked if I would tutor them. For some reason I said yes. The sad part is that I could be getting paid to tutor them if I had only taken a math course last semester. But no matter.

Two weeks ago, music theory was again added. A fellow student asked me what I made on the last exam, and when he found out, he immediately said, "you're my new study partner!". Now every time I walk into class he and his friends ask me if their homework is correct.

Last week, Greek mythology joined the crowd. That was the most surprising one to me, though it was the most natural. A friend is taking a Western Civ. class, and happened to mention that their assignment was to read a portion of the Iliad and answer some questions. My eyes lit up (because I love Greek mythology) and I asked her what she thought about it. The problem was, she didn't understand what the story was talking about. I could not sit by and let her not understand the fascinations of Greek mythology, so I started explaining it to her, paraphrasing the story and supplementing it with quotes from the book. Perhaps it was my enthusiasm for the story, or maybe it was my storytelling style, but by the end the lights had gone on. She understood the story and what it meant. And then she said I was going to be a great mom who always told her kids stories. (As a side note, that is all due to my father and all the stories he told us and books he read when we were kids. I can't read or tell a story to someone without getting dramatic and excited.) A couple of days later, she brought another friend to me who was in the same class so I could tell her the story. When I was done, she said, "You make it so much more interesting. I didn't get all that out of the book at all."

The most recent addition is Christian Ethics. As I semi-crammed for my exam this afternoon, two girls in the class happened to walk by, and seeing that I was studying, plopped themselves down and started asking me questions about the ethics of the Old Testament, the Lex Talionis, and Calvinism.

I wonder if all this is due to the fact I am a natural teacher, and I like to help people understand things. I'd like to think that. Or maybe it's just because my fellow students know I study and they don't, so they utilize my knowledge. Or maybe it's because I really am brilliant. I don't know. But I do know that I probably teach just as much as the professors do. I just can't get paid for it yet.

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