News & Media

News and Media

News and Media

Learning by Teaching: Obies Lead High School Summer Program

Sep. 03, 2004

Ten students from Oberlin High School recently gathered in the studios of WOBC-FM and gave their views on what it's like to be a teen in Oberlin. They read from a collection of essays created this summer under the tutelage of Oberlin College graduates Mara Brecht '04 and Alyson Dame '04 and senior Avi Klein.

The group met three times a week for six weeks, and the experience was as much an education for the Obies as it was for the OHS students.

"Tutoring is like being on the other side of learning, except I realized that I am a part of the learning too," says Brecht. "More than anything, tutoring provides me with an opportunity to think about the way learning is mapped out conceptually. When I tutor and help others think and write and construct, I have to consider the direction the student needs to move in, and at what speed. I have to realize when the path we're taking is not working. I have to think about the process of an academic venture in a more accurate way."

"Teaching writing forces you to sharpen your own writing skills," adds Klein. "You can't really teach writing until you really understand it. Also, trying to help someone to learn while you're still a student forces you to question yourself as a learner. I've become more aware of my own academic problems, which is humbling, but it has motivated me to work harder."

The course, titled English Composition: Writing about Popular Culture, was developed by Anne Trubek, with the assistance of the Nord Family Foundation, as part of the Community-Based Writing Program at the College. The course is intended for OHS students interested in improving their reading and writing skills, says Trubek, associate professor of rhetoric, composition and English, but it also benefits the tutors enormously.

"Many of the tutors want to become teachers, and this provides invaluable experience," she says. "Students from the College served as writing assistants in English classes at the high school during the last two years. The summer course—the result of our desire to expand our presence at OHS and to cross the town-gown divide—is founded upon the beliefs that individualized writing instruction is crucial to students' educational success and that writing is a powerful tool for communication and self-expression."

In addition to reading their work on the air, the OHS students concluded their summer study by submitting their writing portfolios to the Oberlin High School English department. Successful portfolios will receive a half-credit in English composition.


 Marion Anderson
Avi Klein

Marion Anderson
Mara Brecht

Marion Anderson

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