Tutorial fails to facilitate collaboration


Zeeshawn Abid (Illustration)

With strict rules about talking and making noise in the library, many students spend time in the Dining Hall and other spaces to relax and work with friends during tutorial. “My understanding was that tutorial was made to be a time where students could collaborate with each other, but this is not happening because we are too loud in the library and in turn have nowhere to go,” junior Haris Hussain said.

It’s only 35 minutes of the day, but students at St. Paul Academy and Summit School witnessed a major change in their schedules. Students have been gifted 35 minutes of time every day, four days a week, to work with other students and meet with teachers. This time is called tutorial.

Originally tutorial was made “to provide a time during the day where all students and teachers are free, so that students can work together, meet with teachers, finish a lab, and do other collaborative work. With tutorial students don’t have the challenge of matching up a free period with teachers and students that they have to work with,” Upper School Life Committee member Karissa Baker said.

Even though this time was supposed to be used for these educational purposes, instead it is mostly used as a “free time.” Because of this, changes have been made. Now students are required to be silent in the library and complete homework.

For some it has worked: “I usually do homework or meet with teachers. I think [tutorial] is really helpful especially because you can meet with any teacher. [Tutorial] has been a good experience because it’s been really helpful to meet with teachers and collaborate with other students,” junior Mattie Daub said.

But other students don’t feel the same way.

“We [juniors] have been kicked out of the library by the advisors that are required to be there during tutorial. My understanding was that tutorial was made to be a time where students could collaborate with each other, but this is not happening because we are too loud in the library and in turn have nowhere to go. This new strict style of tutorial is restricting our freedom as students to work together and complete work during tutorial,” junior Haris Hussain said.

According to Upper School Librarian Vicky Janisch-Tri, tutorial is not working properly. “We’re trying to make it work, but I think it’s hard because some people are frustrated and feel like they don’t have anywhere to go. But the way I look at it is it’s only half an hour in the day. Tutorial was originally set up as a way for students to have a chance to talk to teachers, and quietly study, but the way tutorial was working before forced us to make a change, because it was just too loud.”

Tutorial is not helping the students of SPA; in fact, it is detrimental to student work. Tutorial was made as time where students could work in groups and meet with teachers. It would give everyone the same free time so collaboration would be feasible. The new strict style of tutorial that is being enforced by faculty is not allowing tutorial to reach its potential.

The first goal has been successful—everyone is free—but the latter, collaboration between students, is far from being a success.

Fixing the problems with tutorial are simple. The easiest fix would be to open the cafeteria during tutorial and add internet connection in that space. Because it would not be silent, students could collaborate or socialize. That’s already a norm in the community, because the cafeteria is a place where students and faculty are expected to talk and make noise to an extent. If students clean up after themselves and respect the Taher staff, opening of the cafeteria could be a success.

If there was this social space, it would be easier to preserve the library for silent work, reduce the arguments between library staff and faculty and the students who do not have work to complete.
Students have received a gift in the form of free time, but to make the gift even better, changes must be made.