Latest posts by Joel Liu (see all)
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Recently, I’ve had a student, Jesselin, who was telling me about how she enjoys tuition. As she is an excellent writer, I asked her to pen down her thoughts about how tuition has helped her.
Here is what she thinks.
Many a time, we only hear about why tuition is a good idea for us students – from the various parenting forums, our teachers, our own parents, and last but not least, the nosy neighbourhood aunty.
However, there are far and few instances that we actually tell you why we students think having tuition is great.
So, here are just 10 reasons we want tuition!
1. Believe it or not, we don’t actually hate our weaker subjects.
While it’s often true that the weaker subjects are ones we have less interest in, this is not always the case. When we go to tuition, there’s much more time to get up close and personal with the subject. Think about it this way: Presume I am weak in Physics. In an average week, I have a measly 2.5 hours of physics classes, much of which is spent tired and stressed out from previous classes. Going to physics tuition gives me a huge two hour boost – which means I now get 4.5 hours of physics lessons. To make it even better, when I attend tuition, it’s outside of school hours, which makes tuition a far more relaxing and conducive place to learn, as I associate school with stress.
2. Time is actually spent studying.
We often tell our teachers and parents “I can study at home!” Though this may be true for the 20% of students who will actually diligently study, the vast majority of us will make a half-hearted, 15-minute attempt to flick through notes, before picking up the game console and immersing ourselves in a game till dinner time, where we tell you about all those things we “supposedly” studied. However, when we go to a tuition centre, we are actually focused because there will be the tutor there teaching, and making checks to ensure our continued attention. It is much harder for you to stray towards your game console, when it’s not physically there!
3. We feel much less scared to ask questions.
There’s a common trope in classrooms. A small, elite handful of students will pester the teacher with endless questions, raising objections and enquiries like the big exam is actually tomorrow. (There have been students in my class who have walked out when the teacher refused to entertain a question). These noisy, inquisitive handful of students are a minority, but I find that they take up the bulk of class time and attention. Hence, it is also very common for us weaker students to feel intimidated or embarrassed into silence when asking or answering a question, for fear of seeming inferior to the elite handful of students, especially if we are of a shyer, less boisterous nature. When we come to tuition, this fear is greatly lessened. For one, due to smaller class size, the chance of a monopoliser is greatly diminished, and there is more time for the tutor to branch off and explain a difficult concept.
4. Tuition can be personalised to suit our learning style.
The style of rote learning is one that’s often utilised in school classrooms, in the interests of speed and efficiency. However, many students don’t do well with such a technique (including me!) and struggle in vain, eventually falling behind their classmates who do well with the style of rote learning. In tuition, more alternatives can be explored, such as using flash cards to test yourself, or even being given miniature tests every “checkpoint” in a chapter, helping to assess understanding. Another bonus of this is being able to go back to past topics more easily after all the topics have been covered, as notes will be already well designed and suited for effective learning.
5. Relevant extra materials are provided by the tutor.
Perhaps you’re one of those “kiasu” students who can polish off exam papers like crazy. Or maybe you have a teacher who is too busy fending off badly behaved students to actually issue exam papers to practice on, or return marked worksheets. A good tutor will have handfuls of materials you can utilise to practice for the big exam. Moreover, the assessment papers will provide immediate feedback as the tutor will go through them, pointing out what the common pitfalls are, and which questions to grab easy marks at. This also tells you where your strengths and weaknesses are.
6. Tuition is also an alternative source of encouragement to do well.
Often, tuition teachers will offer students incentives to do well on their tests, such as a small gift or the prospect of a meal with the teacher. The other tuition students will also be helpful as they will be an additional source of competitiveness, trying to outperform one another, or at times offer more help with certain topics.
7. We can rely on the teacher’s experience to “spot” topics for us.
While “spotting” topics is generally a bad idea, it is undeniable that exams have the tendencies to follow certain trends, which causes them to be some level of predictable. A tutor will hence be able to make an informed prediction on what will come out, and be sure to comb the finer details of the topic.
8. Direct verbal feedback can be given to students or teachers
In a busy classroom setting, there is rarely time to personally speak to students, and even less time set aside for parent-teacher meets. This often causes things like learning difficulties to be pushed aside in the interest of cramming everything in time for exams. With a tutor, the schedule tends to be more relaxed and it is easier for parents to sit down with their child’s tutor for a short chat on issues that may have been shoved aside in school.
9. Students can become more knowledgeable about the world outside their textbooks.
It is not uncommon that a tuition teacher will have experience in a job outside of the teaching industry. For example, I used to have a Physics teacher who worked many projects, namely on a dangerous oil rig and as an electrician. During his lessons on Practical Electricity, he made sure, time and again, to emphasise the absolute care that one must take when handling electricity or anything dangerous, telling us about various accidents that occurred when proper precautions were not undertaken. This has led to me having the utmost respect for anything dangerous – be it fire or electricity.
10. Finally, tuition is a great place for some to relax while learning.
Many tuition centres are situated in cosy environments, and some even provide creature comforts such as snacks or air-conditioning. After a long day at school, sometimes all we want to do is kick back, while keeping ahead of our studies. Tuition is a great place to do that. At the end of the lesson, we get up, refreshed, and are energised enough to go home and do some quick revision.