I read with great concern as more and more articles surface addressing the “social evil” of tuition; how this industry should be considered a bane to the happiness of children and thus should be eradicated.
I have been running a tuition center for 3 years now. I was previously from MOE teaching for the past 14 years, I was even awarded the best trainee teacher in my time and a medalist in my university days. When I first decided to venture into the business, I barely dared announce it to my friends and relatives, feeling like I had decided to join the “dark side” and should be treated with disdain and loathe. That I had abandoned what I was taught in NIE to join the money-spinning industry that feeds on the fear and kiasuism of parents and strips away the happiness of children.
Quite the opposite. I have joined the much-needed-yet-negatively-recognised industry because I still remember what I have learnt in NIE. It is precisely because I want to put what I have learnt into practice that I have joined the “dark forces”. I want to put the smile back onto the faces of children and tell their parents that grades are not everything.
Children have different learning preferences, from kinesthetic to audio and visual combined with many different permutations and combinations. Children also have many different learning obstacles from short attention span to low cognitive ability. They need the option to learn in small groups, to have different methods used in teaching and learning, to have teachers who act as mentors to listen to them and to guide them. Schools, unfortunately, doesn’t provide such a channel to 100% of the students. In a big class of more than 30, teachers hardly have the time and attention span for all of them, usually only the top and the bottom kids get the attention. If tuition is not available or easily accessible, who is going to attend to these “middle-child”?
No puns intended, the “middle-child” syndrome applies even in the classroom. How do u think the child feels about not getting attention in class? They either act up or sink low, depending on their personality. Tuition provides the attention these children require and gives them the guidance they need apart from their busy parents.
To say that the public education system is sufficient in catering to all children in classes of 30 to 40 is equivalent to thinking that all coffee is perfect without the need for additives. Sadly, this is not the case. Coffee is perfect only to a few individuals who knows how to appreciate it neat, but to many, additives of various amount are preferred.
Part of my job running a center includes talking to parents, giving them the much-needed advice in ensuring a great education for their kids, teaching them how to teach concepts, sometimes even correcting their grammar so they know how to correct their kids. Most of the time, I also take on the role of counsellors teaching parents how to best manage their children to ensure both academic and non-academic performance. I will also not hesitate in telling them to put less focus on grades and give the child more exposure in the outdoors and other interests.
It is true that certain parents are overdoing it. They deprive their children of their needed childhood. However, see it this way, if you are not performing at work, are always producing results that are mediocre compared to your co-workers and your boss does not show much interest in you, would you feel happy about your work and wish to focus instead on travelling and enjoying yourself outside of work? Children are sensitive to their own achievements and how others see them. To ask them to ignore their inability to perform is equivalent to asking them to “switch off” for the entire 8 to 10 hours in school and only “switching on” again to enjoy playtime and childhood after school. Human beings are competitive by nature because it’s innate in us to want to progress as a species, as a civilisation. Children, unfortunately, cannot ‘switch’ on and off as easily as adults and tuition, therefore, is the saving grace to help them regain their confidence in school and increase their self-esteem.
Tuition, if to be seen as an evil, is a necessary evil that helps children reach their maximum potential. However, evil as it is, it also helps to boost a higher confidence level in learning and in life. Furthermore, it helps to comfort parents in areas where they need assistance with. Of course, I don’t speak for all tuition teachers and centers but neither do articles that try to cast a shadow on this industry.
Calling all parents whose children are receiving tuition, do not be ashamed by these “forces” that wants you to stop stressing your kids. Be a proud parent who is genuinely seeking help for your child just as you would when they are having a cold.