Help Can’t Hurt

Not everyone can be good at everything.

Whether it’s calculating the area of a trapezoid, understanding the theories of supply and demand or painting a portrait; getting help is nothing to be ashamed of.

Students may get tutored on a weekly basis, but you might never know because they are too ashamed to say so. Why are they afraid to admit it?

“Nobody likes to admit they can’t do something.  It makes them feel inadequate or weak,” said Barbara Arsham, a ninth grade math teacher and tutor. Arsham tutors students in all grades daily and can sense embarrassment when kids walk into a session.

Reasons for embarrassment vary depending on how important social status is to them and how they view themselves.  To be called “stupid” or “dumb” in public can be socially humiliating, but to consider yourself “stupid” or “dumb” can be personally painful.

Guidance counselor Elizabeth Vokes offered her own reason about self-consciousness among tutored students.  “They think they are the only ones experiencing it,” she said.  “They don’t want to feel ‘different’ or ask for help; they believe they are expected to have it together.”

Teachers overwhelm students through homework, projects and tests, but no one ever said they shouldn’t get help.  It’s not entirely about how arduous the material is, it is about taking the next step and asking for help.

Students may be scared to ask for help from teachers for fear of disapproval.  Arsham added, “I’ve talked to other teachers.  We admire the kids who have to work hard.  You admire the time they put in to gather help and it takes confidence to say you need it!”

Freshman Allison Stewart, whose mom is a home tutor, supports this idea.  “Students shouldn’t be embarrassed to ask for help because everybody needs it at one point,” she said.  “Not everybody has to know but even if some do, don’t worry that much about social standings; it’s nothing to be embarrassed about.”

There are many ways to get help, especially at Shaker.  The recently re-opened tutoring center within the high school is a great place to start.  From 4:00-6:00 pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays students can receive help with math, science, English and organizational skills by either students or teachers.  One visit to a tutoring session will reveal that significant numbers of students seek help.

Freshman Madi Hart attends tutoring sessions and does not feel embarrassed. “Although it’s human nature to do things on your own, if you need help then get help.  It can’t hurt you to get help, but it can hurt you to refuse it.”

You don’t have to be a struggling student to get help.  “Some kids in AP get tutored.  If they’re getting tutored and they are the ‘brainiacs’ of the school, everyone should feel OK,” said Eileen Blattner,  guidance department chairwoman.  “The kids I see most often in tutoring centers are the most successful kids.”


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