Trisha Reloaded

Dedicated to Trisha, as always. Dedicated also to L, my source of inspiration, and the reason why I choose to see the bright side of teaching.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Do we really need tuition?

In 2007, I would have to make a major deicision concerning my daughter and it's got to do with tuition. Specifically, it has to do with whether I should get her a Maths tutor because she scored just over 60 marks for her Pri 2 SA2 last year.

I think for most parents, this is a non-issue. A Maths score like my daughter's would send alram bells ringing and the parents scrambling to get the best tutor money can buy. But to me, deciding whether to subject my girl to extra tuition lessons is a big, agonising issue. Because (and apologies to the many private tutors out there making a living) I believe tuition is a major evil in our society. Perhaps a necessary evil, but an evil nonetheless that we should spare our kids from. For it robs your kids of precious time they could spend doing more enjoyable activities, it chips away at your kids' self-esteem unconsciously, and it sends the message to your kids that they are not good/fast/smart enough and hence need the extra help.

I believe that if schools are doing things right, most kids would not need tuition at all. The fact that many kids, even those from good schools, are having tuition, is a sign that something is very wrong, either with our education system, society's or parents' expectations or a combination of these.

I try to be objective, logical and analytical about my daughter's performance. So I tell myself, her Maths scores are below average possibly because :

1) the Maths syllabus is beyond that of an average 7 year-old
This means that the kids who do well in her school are either Maths geniuses (out of the norm), or have Maths tuition to help them cope with the demanding curriculum (that means the syllabus IS flawed); this also means she may be able to cope with the syllabus if given more time for her mental development to catch up (but streaming will start in Pri 4 - can she catch up by then?);

2) she is a right-brain child, i.e. not strong in Maths
This is fine with me except that the Singapore curriculum favours heavily the left-brain faculties (e.g. students must pass Maths at O levels to get into JC/polytechnic, PSLE aggregate is weighted heavily towards Maths). So while it is acceptable to me if she hates Maths and likes art, for example, she is not going to make it very well in a system that demands every kid to be an all-rounder (must be bilingual, passes Maths and loves Humanities subjects!);

3) she had an incompetent Maths teacher who didn't teach her well
Well, if that is the case, then it is not something I can solve. Being a teacher myself, I hesitate to label any teacher incompetent because I know it is not easy to cater to the needs of so many kids. Also, the reality is that not every teacher is a super teacher so we as parents need to recognise that in the course of our children's schooling, there will always be teachers who are mediocre, uninspiring or less committed. In spite of this, if our education system is sound, our children should not have to suffer such crippling penalty by being under the tutelage of a below-average teacher because such teachers should be the minority - unless of course, our system is not as sound as we thought.

Having gone through points 1 to 3 above, I am still in a conumdrum. I feel paralyzed against a system that seems stacked against my girl's natural inclinations (a fondness for art, imagination, handicraft) and one that is bent on producing cookie cutter models that excel in 2 languages and love numbers. An 8 year old shouldn't have to feel that she's not smart enough for school!

So I'm resisting the urge to look for a Maths tutor for I'm very worried that once we start on this road to tuition, it will become an uncontrollable slide into educational handicap. For while I see there's nothing deficient with my girl's academic abilities, tuition will somehow make her feel that there's something inferior about her. Tuition will become a crutch, and we can forget about developing independent learners. Yet, if she doesn't catch up soon in Maths, she will get more and more left behind in this madcap academic race.

Perhaps I'm exaggerating the negative effects of tuition too much. I see many kids who have tuition and they seem pretty self-assured to me. However, the cynical instinct in me tells me these are kids who have been indoctrinated with the belief that tuition is necessary for them to survive, and because they are no longer in the minority, it is perfectly normal to spend your weekends going for extra classes. That, to me, is a sad situation to be in. Tuition should not be the norm. It is abnormal. It is unnecessary. It should only be a last resort, like a secret underground operative that people turn to when they run out of all options, not a thriving multi-million dollar business the way it is here.

Parents who have gone through similar struggles please share your insights with me. When I told my daughter that she may need tuition this year, she gave me such a look of despair that I couldn't find it in my heart to inflict more damage to her self-esteem!


At 11:54 PM, Blogger cole. said...

i've always wondered how we've been able to boast about our education system when there's a whole tuition industry picking up the pieces.

i don't like the idea of sending a child for tuition either, but i'm open to the idea that it could be helpful. then there's the whole question of which tuition teacher...

but it certainly takes a lot of courage to resist the tuition urge, despite all the pressures.

anyway, do have a look at this great talk by sir ken robinson. it might help you decide :)

At 6:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kids are still too young for tuition so I can't comment on the receiving tuition part.

However, having being a Maths tutor before when I was in university, I had various types of students. They were basically not doing well in Maths (obviously) and it wasn't because they were stupid. Most of the time, it was because they did not understand a concept and because of how lessons are conducted in our schools, the teacher doesn't necessarily have the time to give individual attention to those students who do not understand the lessons. And I guess, the students feel rather embarassed to admit that they do not understand and need help in that area. Because they did badly, they had little interest in that subject and started regarding that subject with detest and dread. By having tuition, they had someone to sit down next to them to explain the concept until they "got it" (more or less!), I eventually saw these straight F students scoring 70+, 80+ for their tests. It gave them confidence when they started scoring better in their class tests after they had tuition and that gave them continued interest in that subject. At least, the subject matter was no longer a "turn-off" for them. With that confidence, they were able to continue working on that subject and by not doing poorly in it, it boosted their self-esteem.

I think at the end of the day, it's going to be how one perceives tuition classes to be positive or negative. Unless our education system is going to change, Maths is going to be rather important all the way. Is there any way to beat the system? (maybe with divine intervention! haha!)

At the end of the day, it's hard for us, as parents, to make certain decisions for our children. Which way should we go? What should we say to them? How should we guide them? Be encouraged that in Eph 5: 17-19, we are instructed to understand the will of the Lord by being filled with the Spirit and He will lead us to know what to do next. I am also "struggling" in this area to always praise God in all times and also need his wisdom to carry me through this whole parenthood and child-caring responsibility.


At 7:13 AM, Blogger family man said...

Trisha - I am a poly lecturer and I help out with my 3 sons' maths and Science. Wife take care of English, and for Chinese- we outsource :) ie tuition. Can you find time to do maths with your girl yourself? Of course, I know of horror stories whereby a parent can never tutor her own kid cos they somehow expect their own kids to 'get it' but their kids can't and both parent and kid gets irritated like hell. (sadly, i also go thru that at times) My experience - my sons does know the concept without the pressure of test and exams, but just cannot score well in exams and CA - like 70 marks. But I dread having to send them to maths tuition and hope to help drill them more at home. Good luck! Also is 70 marks 'bad?' I don't know, but I hope they continue to find joy in school and their CCAs (Band practices) are giving them much joy :) And I hope they continue to love school.... (PS - they hate Chinese, so do my wife and I :)

At 8:00 AM, Blogger Mythical said...

I think familyman's on the right track. Math at this level requires only a few little 'modules' of thinking to allow a child to excel if these modules are done right. And the great thing is many parents can carry them out.

1. Arithmetic awareness. Learn to do simple sums very quickly. Like 5 + 8 is 13. Better, 5 + 8 is more than 10 but not as much as 15. My mother is an EL/Lit tr who made me do mental sums a lot, and played games with me like adding up all the digits in car license plates.

2. Spatial/graphic awareness. How much space is there in a 330 ml coke can? How does it compare to a 2-litre coke PET bottle? Can you represent the difference in a drawing?

...and so on.

At 8:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A little prelude - am a Math grad from NUS and have given tuition for the past 12 yrs on a part-time basis. Of course, the tuition industry reflects on our education system but that is a peripheral topic.

When deciding to employ a Math tutor for your kid, I will set aside issues like the side of the brain, arithmeic and spatial awareness, the marks scored in tests and the social stigma/trauma associated with tuition. What I think matters most is whether your kid likes Math.

- Do you see your daughter happy when she does her Math homework?
- Do you see her unsettled when she is unable to do a problem?
- Do you see her curious about how to solve a problem?
- More generally, do you see her attempting to calculate the change at the supermarket checkout counter?
- Do you see her count the number of days/weeks/months to her birthday?

If you answer 'Yes' to the questions above, then I think you have nothing to worry. If you answered 'No', then you might want to consider a tutor. But I have to emphasize one thing...

... the mistake most parents make when deciding to employ a tutor is to expect a stellar improvement in tests. This is impractical and futile. A good tutor will help your daughter to the extent you will be able to answer 'Yes' to the questions above. Its to bring your kid to the level where she is inquisitive about Math and learns to find her own solutions.

For the last year, I taught a P6 boy who used to score 60 in his Math. It took a good 6 months but I can now say with some confidence that he does not require tuition anymore. He now reaches for his Math homework on his own and I only need to guide him on certain difficult problems. Otherwise, he is on his own.

But I should also warn you that Math is not like other subjects which one can study once a week and achieve stellar results. Its about doing a bit everyday, small confident steps.

On a more personal note, I did not score more than 65 marks in Math until Sec 3. All thanks goes to my Math tutor who taught me to love the subject so much that I decided to pursue my undergraduate in Math!

Whatever decision you make, I wish your daughter all the very best :)

At 12:39 AM, Blogger mytableisafirehazard said...

Well, I am a Sec 3 student this year and I find that tuition at a young age.. is really not needed. I'll go as far as to say tuition is not needed in our society, anyway.

I remember vaguely when I was in primary 3, I used to get average results for math. On the day of the math exam my mum scolded me for doing some answer wrong and sent me off to school. I got a... 91 for that exam, second in class. I was really surprised then. Hehe..

I think I had this lackadaisical attitude towards my studies then, however i think that that scolding from my mum really made me wake up! From then on I started having more confidence in my math ability.. and for my other subjects too.

In fact, I never had tuition for my PSLE and(not boasting haha) achieved an 3A*s and 1A..

I guess that the issue is whether one has the MOTIVATION for the subject.. just instill some math love into her and she'll start to get better results. :D

Nothing is concrete at this point, so encourage her more often and do not let her feel bad for herself. I know alot of parents who start chiding their children young and sending them for tuition and in the end they don't have a passion for it.

At 8:45 AM, Blogger brennan said...

There's two things I picked up here:

1. Your daughter is inclined to handicraft.
2. Your daughter have passed her math.

Since she has artistic inclincations, there will not be a need for her to excel in her math (70-80 marks). Everyone seem to have the mentality that we have to do well in the standard subjects (English, Chinese, Math, Science) in order to fit the cookie cutter model.

At your situation, my Mum did send my sister to tuition. My Dad and I weren't ready to help as we were busy with our own stuffs (Work and School respectively). As soon as my sister entered secondary school, the tuition stopped.

Tuition in my family is to help in the areas where the other family members can't help. If we can, then we won't be having tuition.

In my case, I have tuition for Chinese in Secondary and Primary School. There were some points where I wasn't keen on going to tuition - discouraged by the tough revision papers and simply, fatique.

Your daughter's reaction says it all. Ultimately, let the kid have the final say. They can think for themselves.

At 10:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps you can look at the problem differently. Your child does need help in Math because whether or not one excels in art, one needs to have basic maths skills to survive. Maths also trains the mind to think logically. However, the help shouldn't come in the form of tuition as we know it in Singapore, because anyone can become a tuition teacher. You may end up with an A level grad waiting for results who just helpes your child to complete her homework without adding much value to the learning process.

I don't know what's stopping you from helping your daughter with her Math yourself. Only a parent would bother to make Math fun and enjoyable, with games etc, while a tuition teacher would just buy loads of assessment books and scare your kid off the subject.

I'm also unsure why the education system is at fault. I think what's lacking in Singapore is parental support. Parents should take part in their children's learning, by following up with what is taught at home. I've been a relief teacher to primary 2 students, and I believe that no teacher, however competent, can ensure that every thing gets drilled in within the short time available. The syllabus is sound, but parents should go through what was taught at school with their children rather than expect one individual to ensure the mastery of each & every topic by 30-40 8 year olds.

At 10:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I were you, I'd teach my daughter myself. Primary 2 math can't be that hard! Would make you understand the situation better with you coaching her.

Make sure she does her homework, just go through the books with her every day/week. Ask her which chapter her teacher is teaching. Go through that with her. You'll need just an hour a week for that.

Sometimes it's because the kids havent been paying attention in class. And sometimes she jsut needs a little help along the way if she has questions.

Try not to get a tutor. She would be more inclined to pay less attention in class.

Get her involved in her own learning. Talk to her about it. Make her want to do well, instead of worrying for her. Make her understand.

Do what you can yourself. She could phone you or her teacher if she has questions. Keep a file of notes you've taught her with at home so she can look it up herself.

For primary school stuff, it's jsut the same mistakes over and over again you'll realise. She needs you, not a tutor. Keep communicating.

I'm seventeen, being a child seems so close to yesterday. I didnt pay attention in school, have had lots of tutors.

My results went up, but its such a bad, reliant thing. And down again when I told my mum I would study on my own without the tutor as soon as my results went up.

The tutor does the pushing, money becomes the motivation behind the steering wheel. She can do it herself. She and you.

It's like, you don't visit the doctor everyday do you? You boost your immune system by being healthy. So you should work from the inside. I'm not sure if you get whatI mean. I typed a lot prolly cause I feel a lot for it.

Talk to her. She'll thank you for it.

<3 lots of love,

At 10:58 AM, Anonymous Germs said...


did u know that i had 14 (out of 100) for my midyear maths exam at sec 2? No? i was quite ashamed & never told too many people. I was also the laziest bum around at that time. A miracle that i decided to minor in maths during the Uni days.

Any...way.....i agree with what most of the other comments above, i think u would be the right person to assist her, it's only pri2 maths. AND if she had half yr genes, she should be a MATHs genius that's waiting to be discovered.

Sidetrack: we shd catch up when i'm in town (mid jan?)

At 1:23 PM, Blogger j said...


I would say 'no' to tuition at such a young age. Agree with above comments that you can do the job yourself.

I never had tuition in primary school and in secondary school when my results were bad my parents asked if I wanted tuition. That was what really mattered. They let me make my own decision.

I said no because I was already reaching home at 8pm everyday, imagine how much more tiring it would be with tuition. But at the same time I became more determined and disciplined because I wanted to make sure I could be my own tuition teacher.

And I'm now studying music in university. Another decision my parents let me make under no pressure at all from them.

I think learning to be self-disciplined and not dependent on someone else is good. Unless in future, if your daughter finds that she has really tried and still has problems understanding, that's when tuition comes in.

Sorry for a long comment, just trying to illustrate my point.

At 10:08 PM, Blogger Paddy Tan - said...

During my time, going for tuition used to leave a stigma that you are no good which kinda true for me cos I really cant concentrate in class. Too hyperactive :)

But these days, I see it more like enhancements, value added to equip the students a wider scope to grasp the subject better. It is extremely demanding for a teacher/lecturer (I am a part time lecturer/speaker on startup and tech-related seminars) to impart that many things in that short period of time. And on top of that strike a balance between the better and the slower students.


At 10:20 PM, Blogger taryn said...

hi trisha,

maybe you may want to talk to your child about it- like what she feels about maths and about any difficulty she faces in school.

Tell her about tuition and whether she likes to work on it herself or get extra help from a tutor; )

Whether or not it is for getting good results, mathematical skills are important and it's quite important that a natural curiosity for the subject is inculcated at a young age ;)

At 10:40 PM, Blogger KT said...


I'm a private tutor and nope, I'm not offended by your post. In fact I agree with you that tuition is a major evil in our society. Where there is demand, though, there has to be supply.

Learning is a two-way affair. No school can practically "do things right" because there's always a limit to how much an educator can teach. The maximum effort put in to educate the young children does not guarantee maximum results yielded at the end of the year. The child plays a part too.

Personally, I do believe that there is no point in hiring tutors to help a child in his/her studies. I don't tutor students who're not active in learning, themselves, but are only forced by parents to have the tuition sessions. Children can spend their time doing something else which they really enjoy, enriching their childhood years. However, if the child has a philosophy that studies are so important, and he/she is active in this pursuit and requests for tution without parental intervention, then I think that is a good child to teach.

I have had a student who did not prepare for lessons and was almost silent throughout the entire session. Within weeks I told the parents that the boy didn't need a tutor. He just needed to work on his learning attitude. Child psychology is complicated. When a child doesn't want to learn, he just doesn't. There is no way to entice him to learn when his consciousness is entirely against it. So it's not that much a problem with education per se, or even tutors out there.

Children nowadays are wonderkids. They learn things beyond our imagination and they start having a mind of their own at a very tender age. I believe: whether you should hire a tutor for your daughter depends on whether she, herself, is keen on the idea. As a personal opinion, if I had kids of my own, I wouldn't engage the help of tutors for them at primary school level.

At 5:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, came by your blog by

Agree with opinions above on teaching your daughter yourself, time willing. I also think that the most important thing to get out of tuition/self-tutoring if you absolutely have to subject your daughter to it is to teach her to study the subject herself, ie discipline and study habits necessary to master the subject to the best of her ability.

Disclaimer: I've not been a tutor myself, but have had tutors for Olev AMath, ALev Physics.

I did not have any trouble with grades until I went to sec sch (was a big jump in standards cos I went from some little podunk school to RGS) I went from doing very well in pri school to flunking math (and later Alev physics). Parents were concerned and made me go to tuition. Was an absolute waste of my time, and it was then that I realized that studying myself made more sense and took less time. My physics tutor was also really expensive and spent the tuition session meditating while I did a problem set --> not kidding. I dropped him and studied on my own.

Am happy to report that I got As for Amath and Alev Physics. The Singapore school system as it is now is more about good work habits that real smarts, although the latter will help. Good luck and please remember that having a happy childhood is as, if not more, important to being a well adjusted adult as good grades.

P/S: Math was fun for me in pri school because I played this DOS game in the computer labs, which involved trying to shuffle different volumes of liquids into two containers. I would recommend trying puzzles, computer games or opening a children's bank account to spark interest in math.

At 6:13 AM, Blogger nonameclown said...

I wonder what you make of well meaning advice from the mostly non-parents who have no clue as to what you are going through.

So should we risk damaging our kids' fragile ego by sending them to tuition\enrichment classes or should we let them be branded as stupid by their friends as they are sent to the schools' remedial\special learning programs.
Should we risk them losing interest in learning or should we just risk them falling into the cracks of our "cookie cutter" education system (and society) that judges a person's capability\worth\potential by his\her results on common standardized tests.

Decisions, decisions ...

At 6:37 AM, Blogger trisha said...

cole: thanks very much for sharing the link to Sir Ken Robinson's talk. It really gives me something to think about.

family man: The reason why I am not considering tutoring my kid myself is because of what you said -- many times a teacher can't teach her own kids! I can't explain to non-teachers but it is very hard. Plus at the end of a long day teaching over 100 over students, you just don't want to teach another person when you reach home.

I am heartened by your confession. If you can get PhD in spite of failing Maths, I think my girl has hope! (I'm not so sure about me passing her my 'good' genes though, still can't see what she has inherited from me except a tendency to day-dream!)

At 6:43 AM, Blogger trisha said...

You expressed my dilemma very well. I wonder if at some point when my girl is older, she'll resent me for not offering her the help when I could.

Still, the youngsters seem to be advocating no tuition becos of their own experience at the futility of it and that seems a pretty valid point to consider. However, I also think many have been at the mercy of dodgy tutors in the first place so naturally that is a waste of time and money.

At 6:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was from a neighbourhood primary school. Somehow, I managed to get 250 for my PSLE and went on to a Anderson Sec. Anderson Sec, for your information, has been one of the top schools and currently it is in band 1.

I thought that by entering a top school, my results would be even better. But, it was the opposite. Most of the time that I was under stress. I was not getting the kind of help I was seeking. And in the end it is tuition which helped me to boost my grades. And alot of my friends were also having tuition to boost their grades.

I find it funny to find out that a neighbourhood sch teacher is more helpful compared to a top sch teacher. I am not all teachers like that. But what I experienced, the teachers in my school expect us to help ourselves as we are supposed to be the best according to PSLE results.

At 2:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

1) the Maths syllabus is beyond that of an average 7 year-old
This means that the kids who do well in her school are either Maths geniuses (out of the norm), or have Maths tuition to help them cope with the demanding curriculum

How about the possibility that they had put in more effort in their studies than your daughter? After all, Edison said that genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. Assuming everything being equal, if you spent ten minutes a day studying compared to others who spent one hour, who do you think might do better?

For while I see there's nothing deficient with my girl's academic abilities, tuition will somehow make her feel that there's something inferior about her.

Your contempt of private tuition must have rubbed off on her. If tuition is so widespread as you claimed, why does she still think that it is only for inferior students? Does she somehow feel more superior than the others?

This is from your previous post:
2) I believe, as far as possible, that the parent should be the coach, rather than an external, unfamiliar person who doesn't know your child's personality, needs and insecurities. I think many parents either claim they don't have the time, or the skill to teach their child, say swimming, and so outsource it to a swimming coach but I would like to challenge parents to make the time to teach your child something that you do know, or if you don't know how to swim, attend a swimming class together with your child! After all, if you feel swimming is important for your child to learn, then what excuse do you have for not knowing how to swim?

Why don't you take up your own challenge and be your daughter's maths coach? We shouldn't be fair-weathered parents who choose only to do fun things with our kids. When they are having difficulties, we should be there to teach and guide them as well.

family man: The reason why I am not considering tutoring my kid myself is because of what you said -- many times a teacher can't teach her own kids! I can't explain to non-teachers but it is very hard. Plus at the end of a long day teaching over 100 over students, you just don't want to teach another person when you reach home.

I am not a teacher, so I cannot fully appreciate what you said about it being difficult to teach your own kid. But difficulty is no excuse for not wanting to do it.

At 6:46 PM, Blogger A.Ball.of.Yarn said...

amusing line from above. if one cannot begin to appreciate, how then does he acquire the understanding to criticise?

At 2:43 PM, Blogger family man said...

just one suggestion - share your difficulty with your spouse. Maybe he will agree to coach her instead :)

At 8:23 AM, Blogger Andre said...

Hi Trisha

I am a 14+ year old Secondary school student in a SAP school, and often enjoy very much reading your blog as I feel that teachers always have interesting stories to share, and they are able to provide a very good insight of life. I have had many good experiences from teachers who have taught me throughout the years.

Often I find myself thinking about the school education system here, and comparing it to systems' in other countries. Do streaming, PSLE and other such programs really work? One point I really agree with is that if so many students require tuition, the system is definitely flawed.

In secondary school, I am astounded by the huge number of students who continue to take tuition, though these are students who scored more than 230 in the PSLE, are well in the express stream. One would also expect such students and their parents to be less kiasu compared to primary school kids' parents. Also you would probably expect these students to be more independent, more able to study on their own. Yet so many require tuition, and I find it disturbing and strange.

I've only had chinese tuition since I started primary, and that stopped in Sec 1, as I felt I could handle it myself by then. I hope I will never have to take tuition for any subject again, especially in Secondary.

And thus for your daughter, I feel especially in lower primary, not to start tuition for her. I do not see it as really effective, and more importantly, your daughter could become over-dependent on tuition, and not being able to study on her own in the future. At her age it is still very possible to cultivate study habits. Meanwhile, there are also ways in Singapore to do well in arts, though she may not make it to "top" schools in her education. Such students would still be able to obtain recognition, though in a different way. Such opportunities are becoming more common.

In conclusion, just remember that tuition will never be a 100%-sure method of improving less than stellar scores in any subject!


At 6:38 AM, Blogger Cool Insider said...

I can understand your angst, being a parent of a three-year old child myself. Well, it looks inevitable in Singapore that supplemental help in the form of enrichment classes and tuition are necessary, especially when both parents work. By the time we reach home, it is dinner time, and after showering and relaxing a bit, bedtime would have come for the kids.

I say if the tuition helps to give you greater peace-of-mind while giving your kid a helping hand, go for it. Don't fret too much about the philosophical or sociological debates because ideologies don't feed our hungry stomachs. Primary 2 is still a long way to go before stereotyping your daughter to be a particular type, and I would advise you not to give up just yet on her mathematical abilities.

At 11:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find that tuition is unnecessary as if you revise your work everyday, tuitions means nothing. Tuition teachers normally only go through the textbooks with your kids. If you can get your kids to go through the textbooks themselves, tuition is totally UNNECESSARY.

At 2:12 AM, Anonymous wang said...

My sympathies to you as I had parents who were teachers themselves so understand your statement.

I would suggest that you do try to tutor yourself but limit it to one subject and to halfhour slots.

This will should allow a breaktime without hindering family relations.

The other choice would be go thru a self learning Maths program like Kumon.

All the best

At 12:58 AM, Anonymous Mary said...

A Norwegian lady doing her masters here at NUS shared with me her observation on our educational system. She intentionally sent her two daughters to neighborhood schools instead of a international or private school. According to her, she found that, at least in her experience, Singapore schools tend to teach only part of the content, and the children are expected to complete the rest at home, presumably under the guidance of a tutor. I found some truth in this when my son, who was in the last batch of the GEP, improved his grades only after attending some tution classes. When I queried him, he told me the tutor covered material his class teacher did not. Trisha, would appreciate your view on this.

At 2:55 AM, Blogger `winston said...

hey,just chanced upon your blog from google search on sporean teacher blogs :) im 16 (admittedly in 7 months time) and am tutoring just for the joys.seeing that you are a teacher,and a maths one at that,how do you nurture interest in a child,and yet get the results required?what is needed to arouse his interest?

insights from anyone would help in my aim for tutoring excellence. thanks!


At 4:46 AM, Blogger The Wobbly Guy said...

Currently a JC teacher/lecturer. Never had tuition, tutored others for some spare cash at times. Not giving tuition at the moment, though it's extremely easy for me to pick up some students if I wanted to. Teaching chemistry, though I can teach english and GP as well, plus a whole lotta useless stuff, like how to cheat at computer games.

I am a believer that students should be independent learners. Ideally, school teachers should cover all the questions and impart all the skills and thinking processes involved in a subject to their students, but either the students are unable to pay attention, or the teacher could not handle large classes.

There's often a reason why tuition works, and that's the one-on-one or one-to-few attention given to the student. Needs can be tailored, processes explained in detail.

In larger classes, and with the often frequent need to cover the syllabus in a certain period of time, the teacher, even a good one, just whacks through the topic and then asks the essentially useless question, "Anybody have any questions?" when most of the time, the students don't answer even when they don't understand the topic at all.

It's not that the students are stupid or slow, it's that the system just doesn't suit them(the situation I suspect your daughter is in). Many students are wasting their 5-7 hours in school when any actual learning they do is in tuition centers or sitting with their private tutors! And because of the extra tuition, they're too tired in class the next day! What the hell are we teachers doing then?

My dream is for the education system to change. Why call tuition centers with full time tutors as such at all when they are already de facto schools with simply smaller classes? Allow homeschooling or home tutoring. Open up choices to the public, and also allow schools(even the newly renamed tuition centers) discretionary powers in allowing their students access. That'll remove our problems and the stigma of tuition in one shot. Also integrates the 'underground' tuition network and the education system.

The Singapore education system is beginning to resemble a patchwork of horrors. From O level grade inflation(are students really getting that much smarter?) to dumbing down of syllabuses, to SPA and Project Work, to forced CIP and other crazy schemes.

But for you, right now, I think tuition is fine, as long as you make it clear to your kid that she's NOT the problem, the system is, and the tutor is just there to help her adjust/adapt to the system she's in, and that the goal is not to score good grades, but for her to grow out of needing tuition, after which good grades will simply be a formality. At least, that's what I told my tuition kids.

Best of luck!

At 9:11 PM, Blogger zlel said...

I'm not a parent, but I used to get tuition only for one subject in primary school - Chinese - which was actually my strongest subject, not my weakest.

What tuition did for me was not to fix my weakness in the subject, but to inspire me to do well, not just in school, but for the love of the language. In fact, I had been so inspired that I actually became so grounded in the language that it benefited me my whole life through.

In secondary school, The Chinese, department, out of its supreme wisdom, decided that everyone should choose to do argumentative essays for the Chinese exam as they tended to impress markers more and tended to get higher marks. But I sucked at argumentative essays to the point where I was called back for remedial. It wasn't until the teacher decided just to try out for once, to prove her point that argumentative essays were "better", and gave us a non-argumentative essay to do, that I proved her wrong and had special sanction to do non-argumentative essays. I attribute that "victory" to the classical Chinese poetry (outside syllabus) that my tuition teacher taught me way back during Primary school. Classical poetry fueled my passion for Chinese from day one for almost a decade.

In my view, what tuition teachers ought to be doing should not be fixing grades that teachers in school are not achieving with some student in the class, but rather, to inspire students with the passion that teachers may not be able to deliver in the context of a Singapore classroom.

Grades are important, but grade-orientated tuition teachers would not be a good idea.

I had English tuition for a while in secondary school as it was my weakest subject then, but the teacher was totally useless. My English grades fixed themselves when i suddenly grew an interest in the language when my friend introduced me to (reading) Pierce Anthony.

At 2:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Trisha,

I agree with all these people, that u should teach ur daughter urself. Errmm.. Do u know about Kumon method?

U can check it through google. It's an easy way to teach basic math for ur child. ^^

At 12:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a 7th standard student neither I go to tuition nor I like them. In my school nearly 90% students go to tuition. I really feel no kid needs to go to tuition before 10th.
P.S. Sorry to interrupt nbetween adults

At 11:21 AM, Anonymous Kelly Smith said...

I agree with what you guys said above. But sometimes things are not in our hands and you do not like all the chapters equally. But since you need to score well you need tutors. When I was in standard 10th, I hated Algebra and was not able to solve many problems. Neither my friends nor my parents had sufficient time to deal daily to solve my problems. Finally I google searched and found where I got some friendly help.

So there are few times in one's career where it is important to learn from good tutors and I used one such service named above.

At 11:25 AM, Anonymous Kelly Smith said...

For anyone to take benefit here is the link I used. It may help some people in need..... maths assignment help

At 4:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really feel that tuition is really unnecessary for pupils as all the information taught is sufficient to score in exams. I do not go for tuition, I am currently getting high marks for almost every subject!

At 2:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've successfully gone through primary school, secondary school and junior college without having attended any tuition lessons. It's a tough struggle, but the satisfaction is worth it, when you look back and see how much you've persevered though. I'll be going on to study law this year, and having developed the skill of independent study is really comforting. Glad that my parents did not force tuition on me even when I didn't do well in school.

At 11:10 AM, Anonymous Tuition Teacher said...

Tuition is not always an evil. It is an aid and helps the students in understanding the things.

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At 9:45 PM, Blogger Mind Centre said...

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At 1:24 PM, Blogger Anusmita Mukherjee said...

Instead of sending children to tuitions give them Byjus the learning app. Concept building at home without the need for going to classes


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