Last week I was rejected by Kaplan.
In order to weed out the weak teachers (me, apparently), candidates with qualifying SAT scores are invited to audition. Unfortunately, the Kaplan audition does not encourage musical numbers and monologues, but instead five minute “how to” presentations. Too bad, my Phantom of the Opera solo will have to find a different audience.
In brainstorming topics for my audition, it occurred to me that I have very few skills to teach. I’m not great at doing laundry, I can never get the sheets to fit just right on my bed, I follow recipes when cooking, and my list of mastered sports is shorter than I am. So I prepared a five minute audition on the one topic I do know, wine. I attempted, unsuccessfully it seems, to present tips for the amateur wine taster. I covered the basics: the preparation for a wine tasting, the steps in the actual wine tasting event, and most importantly, wine-related phrases that would undoubtedly impress the individuals pouring the wine. Speak of the herbaceous tones, the hints of citrus and green apple. Compare it to last week’s Pinotage, the signature grape of South Africa, a blend of Pinot Noir and Cinsaut.
Kaplan believes in consistency. If you fail to pass the audition round of the hiring process on your first try, that’s too bad. Because that first try was your only try. You are forever banned from the program. Your future does not include the possibility of working for Kaplan. This strikes me as a rather hypocritical practice for a company that seems to promote excellence in trying. Didn’t ace the SAT’s the first time around? Not a problem! Just sign up for a classroom course or some private tutoring, and do practice tests until you genuinely like analogies and bubbling in letters. Turns out the practicing is only for the student.
The most enjoyable part of my evening at Kaplan was spent observing the auditions of others. When people have the opportunity to speak for an uninterrupted five minutes about any topic they so choose, it makes for a good night. We started off with an initiation into the world of golf, and in particular, a successful swing. I will be trying out a new technique come mini golf season.
Golf practice was followed by “How to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro.” I think the entire presentation could have been simplified to one word: safely. The next candidate attempted “How to make a paper airplane.” I say attempted because it didn’t work. All audience members were left with unrecognizable pieces of white paper that will never know the joy of flight.
Also notable was the presentation on hair removal options. Laser hair removal is less painful than electrolysis and it can target a larger surface area, but it requires more sessions for upkeep. I think. Next was the woman determined to prove that Betta fish make for great pets, despite the fact that they eat their young. I suppose we all have our flaws.
The evening concluded with a man eager to enlighten us with his secrets for fighting off stress. They involved addressing the issue, coming up with a plan of attack, and practicing time management. Sadly he was the one candidate who failed to finish in the allotted time.
I may not have a future as a Kaplan tutor, but I sure as hell know to swing a golf club like a pro. And that is a much more valuable skill than being able to teach others the tricks of standardized testing.