Alongside tutoring, he is also a film director. You may be wondering, how has his career as a film director made him a better tutor...
So, Rahul, tell us about yourself.
Well I was born In Belfast and have since lived in eight countries across Europe, the Middle East, Asia and America. My upbringing has influenced my worldview and filmmaking. Rather than doing a simple short film set in London, for example, I ended up venturing to the Himalayas to direct my short film The Road Home, which ended up being shortlisted for the Academy Awards.
Before becoming a film director, I explored a variety of careers ranging from professional sports to consulting and academia! At university, I created my own degree that blended Ancient Chinese Philosophy, Psychology and Political science and graduated in the top 0.5% of students in America. In my spare time, I enjoy travelling, hiking, paragliding, weight lifting and biking down volcanoes.
What subjects do you tutor?
I teach a range of subjects:
English (Primary, 11+, GCSE, A-Levels, University)
Maths (Primary, 11+)
Acting / Drama
How and why did you start tutoring?
I started tutoring a long time ago when I was in the States. It happened quite naturally when I was doing my undergraduate studies. I would be interacting with students from foreign countries and ended up helping them correct their grammar and improve their essays.
This segued into helping students with their personal statements and essays for universities whether it be for undergraduate, masters, or Phd programs. Some of those whom I’ve helped have received a full studentship at Imperial, got accepted with a full scholarship to Georgia Institute of Technology, and got awarded a highest distinction for a masters at the London Film School!
For me tutoring has always been something I’ve done on the side. But here in the UK, I’ve focused more on it.
How has your profession helped you become a better tutor?
Unbeknownst to me at the time, the skills I picked up as a tutor helped me become a better director. And now coming full circle, my skills and experience as a director have helped me become a better tutor.
The very skills I use as a writer, for example, are the same skills I teach my students. In fact, the writing process I learned from a writing professor (who won a Pulitzer Prize) is the same writing process I teach students in a simplified and modified form. To make it more fun and accessible to students, I’ve relabelled some of the writing steps.
For example, there is a brainstorming stage that I’ve called the vomiting stage, where I tell the students to vomit their ideas without focusing on grammar or style in an effort to get their thoughts from their brain down onto paper. The word “vomit” is so striking and memorable to students that they not only remember this stage, they end up chuckling as they go perform this stage in the writing process.
Moreover, the skills I use to direct actors are the same skills I use with students to motivate them. When working with actors, for example, I have to figure out quickly what directing tools work with a particular actor, as every actor is trained differently and reacts to different tools. Likewise, when I meet a student for the first few lessons, I have to figure out what kind of learning style works best for them and then adapt myself accordingly.
Every student is different, so my approach and tutoring style changes. If a student is hyperactive, for example, I may start off a lesson with meditation and visualisation to help some students be more centred and focused for the rest of the lesson.
On the other hand, if a student is quite advanced with their writing, I’ll push them by having them rewrite their original essay with shorter, more elegant sentence. If they initially have trouble doing so, I’ll act as a guide and write a model sentence and then encourage them to rewrite the next sentence in a similar style.
There’s a saying that the real student in the teacher - student relationship is the teacher. The better you can teach a subject, the better you understand the subject yourself. In my case, the more I tutor, the more I notice my directing skills grow. And in turn, the more I direct, the better I become as a tutor.
What do you enjoy about tutoring?
I find it to be an enjoyable and deeply satisfying experience! Not only does it use my writing and directing skills in a different arena, I also find it gratifying to see a student struggle, grapple, and finally grasp a new concept. For me, that’s priceless.
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