The Institute’s ‘Oxford Tutorial’ Model
Instruction on a personalized course of study with the Institute is provided by what is known as the ‘Oxford tutorial model’, based on the traditional method of instruction provided at Oxford, Cambridge and other ancient centers of learning.
A ‘tutorial’ is a session of between an hour and ninety minutes, during which the student is provided with dedicated, one-on-one instruction with his professor / instructor, who in older parlance is known as the ‘tutor’. This language of ‘tutorial’ and ‘tutor’ is significant, for it indicates that the relationship of study is not ‘lecturer speaks and student listens,’ but rather a common dialogue of learning. Both the student and tutor are thinking together, working together, with the tutor providing guidance and direction through experience and expertise, creating a dialogue that leads to deeper understanding and critical engagement.
The Institute has slightly modified the traditional tutorial model to fit with our Orthodox approach to learning.
What does a typical tutorial look like?
Typically, each tutorial begins with an opening prayer, after which the student reads aloud a short study essay assigned at the previous session, for which reading and study has been undertaken in the intervening period. The tutor then begins the discussion with comments on the essay content, and guides the conversation into connected topics, themes, questions and areas of focus. The discussion is always a dialogue: the student is constantly asking questions, offering thoughts, suggestions and ideas, and the tutor is probing the student to examine ideas in more detail, from different perspectives, etc. At the end of each tutorial, the topic for the following session is briefly discussed, preliminary guidance given, and the essay that had been read is collected so that the tutor can read it in further detail and offer written feedback. A closing prayer concludes the tutorial.
For those who wish to (or must) study at a distance, tutorials can be carried out via live video conferencing, allowing face-to-face live interactivity even if you and your tutor are far apart.
You can read about our practical guidance and expectation for tutorials on the Certificate Program, here.
What are the benefits of tutorial instruction?
Tutorials provide the rare and precious opportunity to read, write and learn in dialogue with an instructor who is dedicated entirely to you. Grounded in the prayer that is essential to any study that can be called Orthodox, tutorial discussions allow topics to be examined in depth, probed and explored in a deeply personal way, while at the same time including focus and guidance to keep Church teachings clear and ensure that core concepts and truths are approached carefully.