Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Bueno, as I may have already mentioned, last semester I had a tutor for my Complutense class, Laura.  (She's amazing, btw) Our program, WIP, offers tutors for our Complutense courses if we want them.  WIP pays for the tutors, whom are mostly all past or present students of our current classes.

Luckily, Laura is a tutor once again this semester, and wanted to keep working with me, so she's my tutor for History and Theory of Science.  We've been meeting for the past three or four weeks.

But I still needed a new tutor for my other Complu class - History and Philosophy of Logic.  So I sent an e-mail off to WIP's grad student, Virginia, requesting a tutor, and received contact info of a tutor within a few days.  Simón.  We made plans to meet last Thursday.

Alright so this Simón guy is a professor at some other university in Madrid.  Virginia and I weren't sure about his age, but we both estimate he's in his 30s somewhere.  He was just a bit odd.  You know, when something's just a little off with a person.  He starts off by showing me a brochure of some philosophy conference in Madrid this past weekend - he was speaking on Sunday and said I'm invited. Alright, but no way I'm going...

We met for an hour and a half, and I honestly learned nothing helpful.  He started looking at my notes, would see a name and go off in a rant about this person - information that I don't need to know...

Or he'd see a word in my notes and tell me how to say it in latin, then how to write it in greek, followed by all this unnecessary linguistic history.  He is clearly in love with philosophy.  Which is great and all, but this is not my major. This is not my passion.  I find it interesting, but this is a single class that I would like to pass this semester... I just need to learn what's in my notes from class.

So he'd jump from the first page of my notes to the fourth, to the third, to the ninth - random philosophy historical figure to another.  This is not helpful to me.  I need to see the big picture, how it all fits together.  Who was first, who came next - the historical order.

Then at the end he suggested I start typing up my class notes and e-mail them to him, and he would edit them and add details and extra information to them.  Alright, I supposed I could do that.  At the end of every meeting with a tutor, the sudent fills out a sheet with the date, amount of time you met, and then signs it.  This is how the tutors get paid at the end of the semester - with that info.

So we're at the end of our meeting, and he suggests we put 3 hours for today, because he's going to provide "virtual" help - editing my notes, adding to them, looking for texts, planning stuff, etc.  So I suggested: why don't we write 1.5 hours for today (because that's how much time we met...) and next time you can tell me how much time you spent outside of the tutorías, and that's what we'll put.  He didn't understand what I meant, or didn't understand why, and explained to me again that we should put 3 hours because he's going to spend time outside of class preparing for these meetings.  He then added that he'd probably spend a lot more than an hour and a half preparing for the next meeting.  I tried explaining my idea again, but in the end I just wanted to get out of there, so I signed off 3 hrs on the sheet.  We planned to meet again this Thursday.

So as I'm walking back to our WIP office, I replay the last hour and a half in my head, and am simply dreading the thought of meeting with this guy ever again.  That time would have been muyyy better spent reading through my notes in a library alone.  Sooo better off.  But what to do - we have plans to meet next Thursday, he's expecting my notes to be e-mailed to him by Monday.  I could always say something came up and cancel Thursday and wouldn't have to deal with him until after spring break.... but how do you dump a tutor forever?

So I went to the WIP office and told Virginia and Mamen about the terrible tutor.  Virginia asked me if I wanted him to just change his method of tutoring, or if I didn't want to meet with him again ever.  Option #2 please!  They had to think about it for a while, too.  In the end, Mamen hand-wrote me an e-mail that I was to type up and send to him:

Hola Simón,

Te escribo este e-mail para decirte que he estado pensándolo y creo que no voy a continuar con la tutoría.
Francamente, creo que la ayuda que yo necesito para seguir la clase debe venir de otro tipo de persona, quizás no tan cualificada como tú.
Voy a buscar la ayuda de un(a) compañer@ de clase.
He hablado todo esto con la coordinadora de tutorías y con la subdirectora de mi programa y han entendido la situación.  Ellas me han dicho que pases por la oficina para cobrar las horas que ya hemos tenido.
Espero que me entiendas.  Te agradezco sinceramente la ayuda.
Un saludo,

It said that after thinking about it, I've decided not to continue with the tutorías.  Frankly, the help I need for this class should come from a different type of person, perhaps someone not as qualified as you... and then it said I would look for help from a classmate.  And to stop by the office to get paid for the hours we have had.  I think Mamen wrote a great e-mail - it was straight to the point, honest, yet not harsh.  I typed it up and sent it off on Friday.

His response was hilarious.  I will post it below:

Bueno, Rebecca, as you like it, como quieras. Pierdes la oportunidad de tener como profesor particular a un filósofo, no a un simple empleado. Algún día encontrarás mis libros publicados y traducidos en tu enorme país; si para entonces me recuerdas, espero leas alguno.
A parte de las tutorías si tu o algún compañero/a o amigo/a necesitáis alguna aclaración de algo difícil de comprender (por ejemplo: la teoría de la verdad en Heidegger) siempre me puedes enviar un email con alguna pregunta corta que lo responderé con mucho gusto.
Sincerily yours
Simón _______
PD. Mañana domingo sabes que hablo en un Congreso Internacional de la UNED a las 10:00 horas, si quisieras venir, éres bienvenida.

I will summarize with my commentary between ( )s: He tells me well, as you like it... you lose the opportunity of working one-on-one with a philosophy professor, not just a simple worker (saying that all the other WIP tutors are "simple" and below him).  (The next part is great): Some day, you will find my books published and translated in your enormous country.  If then, you remember me, I hope you read one. (!!! hahaha)

Apart from the tutorías, if you or a friend needs help with something difficult to understand - for example, the theory of truth in Heidegger... - you can always send me an email with a short question and I'll respond.  (I'll just use wiki...) And then there's the PS - you're still invited to hear me speak at this philosophy conference tomorrow (Sunday).  (Hah no thanks, I still pass.)

I forwarded on his response to Virginia and Mamen, they got a good kick out of it.  Also - Virginia told me that last Friday afternoon, before he received my e-mail, he sent an e-mail to Virginia saying how wonderful our first meeting was, and that he's excited for the semester... that the tutorías were going to be great... little did he know...

Anyways, it's a relief to have that all taken care of.  Tutor-dumping, that is.  Which leaves me still without a tutor, but I understand a lot more during this class than my other one, so I think I'll do alright without a tutor for now.  My professor also seems really nice, so once I finally sit down and go through the first month of notes, I can make a list of questions and I'll head in to office hours after spring break to clear some things up.

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