Student Blogs

Let’s Rewind A Bit.

March 29th, 2010 cmcurr11

As I was going back through my blog entries, I realized that I really haven’t explained the tutorial system and the subsequent variations of it. The tutorial system actually stems from the Medieval Scholastic tradition of learning in which students would argue (in Latin, of course!) both sides of an argument in front of their teachers. Intimidating, right? Well, the 21st century version isn’t that nervewracking, but it’s still an experience. Generally, an Oxford tutorial will entail the student bringing an essay (ranging from 2500-5000 words, depending upon the assignment) and reading it aloud to the tutor. I think this is one of the best writing skills that I’ve adopted from my year abroad here; you really get a feel of how your essay flows (or doesn’t) when you read it aloud. This method also really helps when you’re writing an Oxford essay because the tutorial essay is supposed to flow like a conversation between you and your tutor. It’s quite a different approach than an American term paper. Anyway, after that, the tutor then rips apart your argument. Tears might be involved, but are not necessarily a requirement. Just kidding. Sort of. So that’s the typical Oxford tutorial; this is how Ralph structured my meetings with him. A slightly updated version, however, hails from Cambridge (ewww. Juuust kidding) and the general advances of technology. Some tutors prefer to see the essay before the tutorial meeting. That way, you don’t spend half an hour reading your paper and rushing through all of the criticism for the next half hour; instead, you spend an entire hour being grilled by someone at the top of their field. Intimidating? Yes. Exhilarating? Oh yes! This is the method that Charlotte, Hugh, and Rosalyn employed for my tutorials with them. It’s a tad frightening because they have the essay for about twenty-four hours; that means that they can really just rip it apart. Now, after most of my tutorials, I made a quick pit stop at Ben’s Cookies to reward (or console depending upon the day!) myself for surviving (for anyone making a trip to Oxford, a trip to Ben’s Cookies (right at the front of the Covered Market) is essential; I personally recommend the dark chocolate and orange, dark chocolate and ginger, and/or milk chocolate and praline.). So that’s a very broad and sweeping generalization of the tutorial system. Like I said, it is quite different from the American approach, but there are certain elements that I quite enjoy.

Comments are closed.

<< Older Entries