Empathy for writers facilitates appreciation of Literature!

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When we read different writer's works, it helps if we are able to empathise with them  - their life, the struggles they have. Writers possess character flaws, of which some can be considered alarming, hence making readers and students empathising with them a challenge. Take for example, Ibsen. Despite  his glittering career and the timeless appeal of his works, Ibsen abandoned his mother for all the great concern about women and their situation shown in most of his works. He only resumed contact with his younger sister when they were both in their twilight years. Tsk tsk tsk, how could he do that? Even more incriminating was the tragic fact that his mother was bullied and stomped upon by his father throughout their entire marriage until his father's death. Ibsen witnessed it when he was living in  his family house. But then Ibsen's literary genius remains spellbinding and to appreciate his works, it helps to understand that he is an aloof character.  And although he did not show any concern for his mother during his illustrious years, he was a man ahead of his time and his works are admired and studied by writers after him and of course by students from all over. Then of course how can i ignore Edgar Allan Poe who achieved posthumous fame but was variously regarded as a practical joker, fraud, a foolish drunkard and worst of all an unbalanced and sadistic criminal. He would have frightened the daylights out of many of us if we had him for our neighbour or relative! Sorry that I am taking great liberty here to drive home a point! But then if we know his tragic life - he lost his parents at a tender age of 4,  he struggled with poverty throughout his entire time - even at the height of his fame and his enormous reputation in France, he was still living on the cusp of impoverishment and his untimely demise at the age of forty make it less difficult to put aside our judgment and appreciate his works and even view him in a sympathetic light.      

Keeping a positive mindset in a stressful vocation

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Giving tuition is a calling. Sorry for sounding a tad self-important here but a tutor can and does make a big difference. Although not many will openly acknowledge it, having someone experienced and diligent to help with the one important presentation, the term essay, the class project or an assignment makes life less stressful for students. When the sessions are managed carefully, tuition can build up a child's confidence and improve his or her abilities and skills, not to mention proficiency in the subject matter.Last but not least, tutors make a difference in exams, streaming and promotions to the next level. As much as tutors are often the unsung heroes and heroines, their contributions are significant. Here are some of the feedback received from my students (I will add on as the feedback comes in):
 
  • Mother of Peirce Secondary School Sec 4 student tutored in Lit this year: "Very beneficial. Can see she is improving."
  • Mother of Kuo Chuan Presbyterian Secondary High School Sec 1 student tutored in History, Geography and Lit: "He finds the sessions very helpful. As for Literature, he likes that you explain a lot more than his subject teacher."
  • SJI Sec 4 student in Lit and English this year: "The sessions were good."
  • Sec 2 ACSI student in Literature this year: "My boy said the lessons were beneficial. He understood what you've taught him."
  • Mother of Dunman High year 2 IP student tutored in Lit, History and Geography this year: "Thanks for helping us? Glad that you took him in. He's really looking forward to next year."
  • Sec 4 ACSI student tutored in Lit, History and Social Studies. Was with me since Sec 2. "Her sessions are very good. She is very concise and thorough."
  • Sec 3 CHIJ (St Nic) student tutored in Literature, English and Social Studies this year: "Very beneficial and helpful, especially in Literature which I improved quickly compared to my previous grades. My English comprehension's score was 40 out of 50 and I am now passing my Social Studies."
  • JC 1 student from Meridian Junior College being tutored in H2 Literature this year: "I have really enjoy the sessions so far because I've been enlightened to a lot of stuff in Hamlet that I have not been taught or personally thought of before,"

Saying goodbye to the obvious, the superficial and the banal

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A text can be approached in many ways. Take for example, the ever-popular, "Romeo and Juliet".. On a superficial level, the play is about a young couple from feuding families who are not allowed to be together and their attempts to be together results in their tragic deaths. Romeo has a good friend, Mercutio who is killed by Juliet's cousin, Tybalt and Romeo avenges Mercutio's death by killing Tybalt. Now such an interpretation is not wrong, nor inaccurate but there are a lot more to Romeo and Juliet than meet the untrained eye. Many of us tend to take a reductionist view of Romeo and Juliet. Reduce it to the simplest level. As for my sessions, I try to steer my students away from the obvious, avoiding superficial reading of the play and coming up with banal answers to the more insightful, original interpretations of the play, and in the process have fun and most importantly do well! For my sessions, these are the feedback I have received from my students:
  • Mrs Moen is able to flesh out the characters in such a way that I now have a lot more to write about them. In the past I could only manage two paragraphs (Sec 4 student last year who scored an A2 for Pure Literature).
  • My son enjoys your lessons very much. He said he is learning a lot from you ( Mother of Sec 4 student tutored in Lit, History and Social Studies).
  • She loves your Literature sessions. She enjoys your lesson a lot (Mother of Sec 3 student doing Lit and English).
As for 'Things Fall Apart", I do  not even know how to start about how sadly mistaken are some of the ideas that students have been taught about the narrative and the protagonist. Give me a call today and find out more about my sessions.