Everyone knows the phrase that "the student has surpassed the master." We hear it from time to time, often in moments when someone compliments someone else. Sometimes it is even true. However, the fact in this saying that there is a student and a master - two actors in some play that is taking place between them - goes to a deeper reality. For centuries, if not longer, the light of human thought has been transmitted in precisely this way - from the wise to the seeker, from the experienced to the thirsty for experience. The model for this amazing relationship, reduced almost to a minimum, is just two participants in an encounter that becomes an event played out by the innumerable cultures in every region of the world. It is the Apprentice and the Master. There are always at least a couple of them. Why has this model just survived the centuries? What caused people to learn by gathering in small groups under the leadership of the wisest among them? This is the most natural way to pass on experience and knowledge, done individually. Here is a student, under the guidance of a master, can take bold steps in self-development and deepening of his personality or knowledge. The master, interacting with the student, develops his deeper understanding and receptiveness in the process of guiding the young spirit, adapting and modifying the experience unique to both. What is this process? How is it defined and how is it carried out? This is exactly what happens during tutoring.
Academic tutoring, done as the Oxford Method, involves a strong interaction of experience with the student based on mutual trust. The tutoring process is based on joint work, the rhythm of which is determined by successive meetings. The master in this two-person team acts as a guide and advisor, often also an observer and confidant, while the student is the one who goes through the process of learning and developing, discovering himself and the world, using the methods indicated by the master. Both can support or teach each other in this process, but in this method the master has a wider range of experiences and methods, thanks to which he can respond to the needs of the process itself and support his pupil accordingly. He or she is also a source of knowledge in the process, providing reference and context for the discoveries they make together. In the Oxford Method, tutoring is seen as a process in which the student acquires an experience that can change him/herself (personal tutoring), or deepen his/her knowledge (academic tutoring). Both parties, the student (tutee) and the master (tutor), can pursue their goals and improve themselves through self-development using appropriate methods.
In academic education, tutoring can be seen as an additional offer to the student, who can gain a new perspective on topics that interest him or her. It can allow for a more in-depth study of topics only briefly touched upon during normal studies. It is a form of personalized education that is based on a completely individualized and collaborative approach. It is teaching and growing by exploring a topic together. It is the greatest treasure we can give to our mentees as they seek deeper knowledge or want to develop new skills within themselves. To simplify things, tutoring is personal training in a field chosen by the student and tutor, based on predetermined methods and working technique.
At the moment (mid year 2021) at the University of Gdansk there are over 100 active tutors, at almost all faculties. Tutors and persons interested in improving their skills in the field of teaching are supported by an internal university unit: Center for Teaching Excellence and Tutoring, established in 2020. In the West (e.g. Oxford) tutoring plays a dominant role in the education of students, covering more than half of the teaching hours during their studies. Betting on the development of tutoring at the University of Gdańsk creates an opportunity to raise the level of our graduates.
Written by Piotr Arłukowicz