I own a tutoring company, Access Test Prep & Tutoring, a one-on-one SAT prep firm. Frequently, parents with amazed looks on their faces approach me in the grocery store and say, “I don’t know what you do at Access, but my child does not complain about attending SAT tutoring.” They are pleasantly perplexed by this phenomenon.
I am not. While Access does specifically train its tutors in our proprietary relationship building tool, which I believe makes our tutoring significantly more effective, we also require students to turn off their phones and lay them face down during sessions. But it’s more than just those elements. I have known the secret to tutoring, in general, all along.
To my delight, Jean M. Twenge’s Aug. 1 Atlantic article, Have Smart Phones Destroyed a Generation? cites the science that supports my thinking. The fewer one-on-one, face-to-face conversations, the less happy human you are. We homo sapiens thrive and are hardwired for bonding and learning, and the only way to do so is human-to-human in person face-to-face interaction. FaceTime and the like are close seconds, but there is nothing like the power of the real thing.
There is a magical transference that happens when humans are proximate to one another. We seek out one-on-one bonding experiences with other humans without the distance of a virtual barrier in between. The Twenge article points out that some teens actually sleep with their phones or liken them to a body appendage. They are humanizing their devices. The human need to bond is just that strong.
In tutoring, the students are also mastering something that’s challenging—that sense of skill mastery adds value to their overall positive feelings.
So why do Access students refrain from complaint when it comes to their SAT tutoring? Because typical student daily interaction is attending a class and socializing in a group albeit via their phones. Even at the family dinner table, teens frequently use their phones. A phone-free tutoring session provides students with a regular one-on-one, face-to-face intimate conversation. Plus, they get the feel good skill mastery booster on top. So they like tutoring because it might be the only part of their week that satisfies their all too human need for emotional bonding.
Twenge points out that the device-burdened I-Generation has unprecedented depression rates because their social vehicle, even if one-on-one, is via a device and not a real, intimate emotionally satisfying, human-to-human connection. I say, lay down the phone and bring on the tutoring.