Hindsight 20/18: Horizons
Jul 1, 2018 • Burned Out Matt Wang • ~ 5 minute read • 606 words
I think for the most part all of my life experiences so far have been both positive and negative, which is just how life works. However, there are a few things that I’ve done that I thought was fully positive - and one of them is Horizons. Let’s talk about Horizons.
Horizons is a peer tutoring program at my school - students from UCC link up with students from low-income public schools and teach them stuff like math or robotics. Horizons is super successful (at least in my perspective), for a few reasons: it has a very dedicated role in our school (we have two paid employees who manage it as their top priority), our school has lots of infrastructure and resources, and we have a large pool of tutors (i.e. kids who need community service hours).
I joined Horizons in my first year at the Upper School, starting off as a math tutor. I really enjoyed my experience - I generally enjoy teaching, and I love seeing kids learn. Pair that with some self-induced happiness from altruism, community service hours, and a free lunch, and I was set.
The year after, I learned that there was an opportunity to do Horizons Robotics - pairing my love for Robotics (which I was super invested in at the time) with the great activity that was Horizons. With the rest of robotics, we worked out a good curriculum and a way to teach it. The first year was rough - we had hand-me-down equipment and were inexperienced. Still, it was a good experience - it was cooler than Horizons math, and I already thought that that was super cool.
In the next year (I’m in Grade 10 now, for reference), Camran (a dedicated horizons tutor and friend) and I restructured the program - we purchased mBots, some modular metal robots coded in a modified version of Scratch. We re-did the curriculum and put it back into action, and I think it was a great success - we streamlined a lot of the equipment and got robotics materials that correctly matched the age-range of the kids that we tutored (from Grade 4-6).
Camran and I continued heading Horizons Robotics for the next two years, with each of us running the sessions on the times that worked for us. In my final year at UCC, I also kick-started the Horizons Computer Science program, with similar results - while it was a struggle to teach originally, at the end we got kids learning the basics of CS by making a game in Scratch.
I went pretty light on the details here, because I think that most things went relatively smoothly - I don’t have a need to be hypercritical of Horizons. Rather, I just did a lot of positive things and learned a lot of cool skills. First and foremost, I’m happy of the “impact” I’ve made (even though that makes me sound super pretentious) - I’ve loved seeing these kids learn and grasp these skills, and giving them opportunities that they might not’ve had without Horizons. It’s made me love teaching, and I hope I can continue projects like Horizons in the future.
I’ve also learned a lot about teaching - while I’m clearly no expert, I’ve definitely grown more sympathetic towards teachers. Planning curriculums is lots of hard work - as is teaching students who are difficult.
Tonally, I think this is quite different from the other Hindsight 20/20 posts, but I’m kinda happy about that - Horizons was a super positive light in a sea of undecided gray. It brightened my horizons, if you will.
Until next time!