“I’m drawing the periodic table in my bedroom!”

The sky's the limit...

The sky’s the limit…

“When we’ve finished on the cello, can I show you my periodic table?”

My 8 year old pupil loves playing the cello, but he also loves anything and everything to do with science. He couldn’t wait for the end of the lesson so he could show me the periodic table he had been constructing using pieces of card on the floor of his bedroom. It was about a quarter done, and he confidently explained what all the hand-drawn little numbers were on each card, and the categories of the elements.

His mother was pleased, if rather bemused, by his excitement and interest. She told me that the family had engaged the services of an astrophysics PhD student, who came round once a week to teach their son.
Broadening horizons.

Broadening horizons.

It occurred to me that this was the perfect example of a tutor being employed not to help a child pass an exam or get into a particular school, but simply to support and guide them in a subject they wanted to investigate. The parents could see that their son had a boundless enthusiasm for science and felt that he would benefit from being able to interact with someone with real knowledge and skill in that area.

When so much of the media attention focussed on tutoring is negative, these unheard stories are important. There was no particular end goal to these lessons – simply learning for the love of the subject.

Are you a tutor who has taught lessons in this way? Are you a parent or student who has employed a tutor for this reason? We’d love to hear more stories of this type of tutoring.