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Tutor Doctor of Raleigh & Wake Forest

Serving Raleigh, Wake Forest, Rolesville, Youngsville, Cary, Garner, and the surrounding areas of the Triangle
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Challenges Facing Rural Schools

Not all school boards are the same — different boards face different challenges. This is particularly true when looking at rural schools. Around half of America’s school boards are in rural areas, but one thing we can say about rural education…

Five Abandoned Teaching Methods

There is always discussion and debate about new educational methods. For instance, nowadays there is a gradual move toward student-centered education. Of course there is also intense analysis about just what role digital technology should play in the…

A Look At Elon Musk’s “Secret” Private School

Elon Musk is, without doubt, an extraordinary person. Born in South Africa, Musk made his fortune with PayPal, eventually selling out to form a veritable galaxy of companies and technologies. These include electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer Tesla, private space company Space-X, the remarkable HyperLoop technology that promises to revolutionize high speed ground transport, and cutting-edge solar power manufacturer SolarCity. He even created a “Boring Company” (yes that’s really its name) designed to dig massive underground tunnels beneath cities like Los Angeles in order to reduce traffic congestion. He’s among the wealthiest people on earth, with an estimated net worth of $15.2 billion. Among his initiatives, however, is a particularly tantalizing effort: he built a school.

Elon Musk is a dad with five sons: a pair of twins born in 2004, and a set of triplets born in 2006. By all accounts Musk is a devoted, involved dad, and when they began attending school in early 2010 Musk was dissatisfied with the education they were receiving. This isn’t about private versus public school but rather the education models used by pretty much all schools in America. Well, Musk didn’t like it and so, as an entrepreneurial tinker, he started his own school, originally for the children of Space-X employees called, appropriately enough, Ad Astra (to the stars).

Ad Astra has one philosophy at its core: student-centered learning. This is an unorthodox approach that, in the case of Ad Astra, employs individualized courses of study that allows students to pursue their interests and passions in addition to required material. According to Musk, the goal is to have education adjust to the unique characteristics of each student, rejecting what Musk calls the “mass production” approach of current schooling that requires young people to adjust to fit the system.

“Some people love English or languages. Some people love math. Some people love music. Different abilities, different times,” Musk says. “It makes more sense to cater the education to match their aptitudes and abilities.”

The school does not have grades, with all students learning together and helping one another when needed, and whenever possible the goal is to emphasize hands-on learning. According to Musk, the goal is to empower students to follow their passions while encouraging each student to focus on problem-solving.

The latest reports have indicated that Ad Astra is still a very small endeavor, with only around two dozen students enrolled. And is it working? Musk himself insists it does indeed work — almost to a fault. He says his sons now prefer school over holidays, and get fidgety when they’ve been away from school too long.

Toward a Better Understanding of ADD/ADHD

In the United States, an estimated 11% of children have been diagnosed with ADHD — that’s almost 6.5 million kids. The rate of diagnosis has increased steadily over the years and shows no sign of slowing down. But there are still a great many …

Homework Hassles? We Can Help!

“I like doing homework now…” says this Tutor Doctor student. Homework and test preparation can be a daily struggle for families. If you find yourself nagging your children to do their homework and meeting with resistance, then we have a solution to you. When students are overwhelmed, they will avoid doing homework. Our in-home tutors are there to help with the curriculum and homework so your children fill in the missing gaps and gain more confidence.

Our one-on-one tutors also teach executive skills like task initiation, being organized and focusing on schoolwork so you don’t have to struggle to get homework done.

https://youtu.be/5EKKFfVp-d0

Four Great Summer Portfolio Projects

Ah, the Internet. The source of so much stuff we dislike: bullying, trolling, false information, and material that’s just plain objectionable. But there’s a lot of wonderful content out there as well, and the really great thing is that yo…

All About the Fidget Spinner Craze

What are fidget spinners? They’re small devices, around three inches across, that you hold in your hand and, well, spin. They basically just sort of whizz around on their bearings (and you can make them spin pretty fast) but they serve no real …

All About the Fidget Spinner Craze

What are fidget spinners? They’re small devices, around three inches across, that you hold in your hand and, well, spin. They basically just sort of whizz around on their bearings (and you can make them spin pretty fast) but they serve no real …

Four Great Outdoor Hobbies for Young People

The summer holidays are swiftly approaching, which means it’s time to start coming up with things to do for your youngsters. While reliable activities such as summer camp, day camp or just plain loafin’ are always there, other possibilities beckon — possibilities that, while being fun, can also be educational.

 

1. Model Rocketry

This hobby has been around awhile, but it’s tons of fun. The way it works is simple: you assemble a rocket (mostly using glue and stickers), insert a standard-sized rocket engine, then insert an igniter into the engine, and then launch it from a simple launch pad using an electric trigger-switch. The rockets and engines vary in size and capability; they can be small and simple or huge and high-flying. Make sure you have access to a very large open field, as the wind can really catch these (especially during the parachute phase). If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, you can attach experiments, sensors or video cameras to your rocket. Watching them soar into the sky at top speed will thrill your kid every time!

 

2. Geocaching

One of the best uses possible for your kid’s smartphone, geocaching combines socializing, competition, the thrill of the hunt and, of course, high technology. Geocachers leave small items for others to find out in the world. Using coordinates and GPS technology, the goal is to find those items (which only have a token value if any at all). It’s also standard to include a logbook so people can add their name to the list of those who have found it. Now it may sound geeky, but it’s tons of fun and there’s a massive online community of geocachers — chances are there are targets to find near you.

 

3. Gardening

Planting and nurturing flowers and vegetables is both dead simple and incredibly complicated. Plant, water, prune, weed. Pretty straightforward. Except that some plants require more sun exposure than others. Different flowers bloom at different times in the growing season, some plants can only grow in specific climate zones, water demands can vary … things get more complicated the more you do it. But really diving in, starting with plans, keeping a garden journal, and best of all watching life spring from the soil, can be tons of fun. You don’t even need land, a few pots will do.

4. Stargazing

It’s not crazy to think that looking at the stars “properly” requires a hugely expensive telescope equipped with a high-tech motorized mount and an aperture wide enough to drive a school bus through. The truth is, however, such costly tools, while desirable, are not at all necessary. Cheap refractor telescopes, your grandfather’s old binoculars and even a set of opera glasses can reveal amazing sights in the night sky. Even in cities where light pollution renders much of the heavens invisible, it’s still possible to observe the moon, our solar system and even orbiting objects like the International Space Station. There’s tons to see right above your head — just remember to be careful when you’re out at night, and never to look at the sun!

 

Professional Development: An untapped market?

Professional development days are a staple of school life. Students get a day off, parents scramble for childcare, and teachers sit in a stuffy room and become students. In truth, however, professional development (PD) is a huge part of work life for a teacher, with around ten percent of the school year, or 19 days, devoted to training. But much of that effort is wasted, according to a new study [note: report behind paywall]: “By and large, U.S. teachers are receiving professional development that is superficial, short-lived, and incoherent.” Does this present a hidden opportunity for modern trainers and educators?

The point of PD is to ensure that teachers are fully versed in current educational knowledge and techniques. A lot of people tend to think of teaching advancement in terms of generations, with younger teachers picking up new skills when they train for their certificates, and bringing those skills into the classroom while older teachers retire. However if that viewpoint has any basis in reality, it’s a disastrously inefficient way to keep teachers current, especially in this day and age.

The world is full of data and practical experience, and private companies make the most of this through constant skills training — and being profit-making entities, they work hard to ensure that all their training is effective, useful, and is retained by all learners. The study, a

2016 EdNET Insight report entitled The Evolution of Professional Development to Professional Learning, finds essentially no effect on student outcomes by teacher PD, while most teachers believe it has little relevance in their work. Despite this, the report views PD as a huge potential opportunity.

Modern training offers countless venues for picking up, honing and maintaining skills. Micro-credentials, online learning, collaborative learning — the list is long. And the market is huge, with an estimated US$18 billion spent on PD in the United States alone — this totals around $18,000 per teacher per year. Would talented teachers, trainers and tutors outside the education system be able to crack this market and start offering PD to educators? At the moment, few schools would even think of such a thing — but making it happen could have major business ramifications. It’s an opportunity to make a profit, and to make a difference.

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