Why parents need tutors: To do the job of parents
The debate over the necessity of tuition in Singapore was recently reignited by comments made by Ms Indranee Rajah, the Senior Minister of State for Education. Private tuition, she said, was not necessary in Singapore’s education system.
Time spent in class is sufficient for a child to grasp the necessary knowledge, the argument goes. Pay attention in class and keep up with your homework, and the average student can perform decently at examinations. Remedial classes will help weaker students to catch up with the rest.
But all this misses the real function of tutors in Singapore. The truth of the matter is that tutors here are nannies.
The argument that students can cope without tuition is premised on the assumption that the average child is intrinsically motivated to push himself to do well in school.
Yet it is unrealistic to expect most children to be so motivated.
The nature of academics is such that frequent practice, even beyond the allotted curriculum time, is required to reinforce concepts taught in the classroom. But the average student is unlikely to fully grasp the need for this. More often than not, all that is on their mind the moment they step out of their school gates is hanging out with friends.
This is where tutors are crucial. Often tutors are engaged to help a student with his homework, forcing the child to get his homework done before tuition begins. Tuition homework assigned on top of this means the child gets more practice in applying the concepts learnt in the classroom.
As such, tuition is a means to prod the student, whose priorities would otherwise probably lie elsewhere, into revising their work outside of curriculum time.