Peer to Peer Tutoring: What’s In It For You When You’re Not In It For You
By Michael Tringe, Co-Founder of CreatorUp!
Let’s take a look back at our learning experiences – who did you really learn the most from? Was it your professors, or your classmates?
Professors and teachers are important. They hold the knowledge. And often times, they know it all to well. Sometimes the lectures are insightful, boring, brilliant, or inspiring. But when it gets down to the nitty gritty of learning the stuff – how does it really actually happen?
Often times – we work together to help each other learn, without even knowing that we do. Do we charge each other? Of course not. That would ruin the whole concept of I’ll help you if you help me. Peer to peer tutoring is a clunky way of saying, let’s help each other learn.
While there are a slew of sites that focus on peer to peer tutoring and more are being added each day (see below for a list), it’s a concept that happens naturally all the time. While alumni groups, networking functions and conferences all aim to serve this purpose, there is a contrived element to each of these formal groups that immediately puts people on guard and can inhibit true sharing. On the other hand, if you observe the way people interact when they are not seeking to gain but are genuinely interested in helping each other without all of the formality, you will see that it is arguably quite a bit more effective at inspiring sharing and growth.
“I’ve noticed that those who embrace the concept of making the time to help others without asking or expecting anything in return tend to be better off themselves. I believe this is because intention is everything and people genuinely want to help those who want to help them. It’s amazing how often those who are always focused on their own needs are also those who struggle finding the right job, right apartment, right resources,” said Nicole Delma, Founder of FOND and The Usual Crew, a NY-based ‘Non-Networking’ Group.
For the altruistic few who help others regularly without a formal negotiation as to what they expect to receive in return, there is a broad net of peers surrounding them and ready to pitch in when the need arises. This net of supporters is effortless and constant and is at the core of the advantage an altruistic person has over a counterpart who has led a life/career of constantly putting his or her own needs first. You can be selfish short term but long term, it only pays off for a very select few.
While the notion of helping others, especially our peers (potential competition) is somewhat counter-intuitive for those of us who were raised in a culture of competition, I’ve also seen it work time and time again in some of the most cutthroat environments where not collaborating means not succeeding. When I was undergrad and pre-med – there was a whole lot of study grouping going on after dinner in the cafeteria. It was a ritual. If I hadn’t had my classmates there to help me out – I wouldn’t have made it through the class. Harvard pre-meds weren’t all as cutthroat as they were made out to be – there was a group of us that were, well – down right collaborative.
In the world of arts education too – filmmaking almost never happens entirely with one person. There’s lots of feedback from classmates about what’s working in a story, and what’s not. Of course – in an arts setting where everything is relative – we tend to take some classmates’ feedback more seriously than others, but there’s a general rule that the consensus is usually helpful around helping to clarify story, plot, emotion, and character.
Online education gets a bad wrap for sometimes not being collaborative at all. Isolating. Unmotivating. Or even downright depressing. But the solution to all of this is each other. We can become invested in one another’s education by sharing our educational experience – learning from each other’s questions – and getting deep into the problems that are stumping us and the solutions that are really working.
One of the reasons I love education is because it is so much about sharing and communication of ideas. Debate. Analysis. All of these things can happen online at no cost once we create the community and the ecosystem to have these interactions. So my challenge to you is to create a small community for some good old peer to peer tutoring (or whatever you want to call it) around a topic you care about – teach each other, share your knowledge, and not just good – but great things will happen.
Mike Tringe is the co-founder of CreatorUp, the e-learning platform to make and market video content. He is passionate about making an excellent arts education accessible to everyone. You can reach Mike at Mike@creatorup.com to learn more about courses or inquire about teaching one yourself.