The myth of taking tuition


OF late there has been much hullabaloo about tuition – the whys and wherefores. 

The necessity of taking tuition is a myth, not unlike the myth of Sisyphus. Sisyphus’ boulder keeps rolling downhill everytime he manages to get it to top of the hill. In other words, tuition is an exercise in futility. Going for tuition today is fashionable but it’s nevertheless a waste of effort.  

School teachers are made to look bad in this controversy. The popular belief is that school teachers can’t cope. Give teachers a class of 25 or even 30 students and you will be surprised just how superb they really are. 

Are Malaysian taxpayers ready to address the twin perennial problems of overcrowded classrooms and overworked teachers? Try teaching about 50 restless kids with 50 different personalities and you’ll understand. 

A lot of parents, some of them teachers themselves, coerce their kids into going for tuition for the simple reason that they must keep up with the Tans, the Ahmads and the Muthusamys. They panic when they see other children going for tuition. The rationale is their kids might not be able to keep up with the others if they don’t take tuition. Therefore, is there a real need or is it a perceived one?  

I remember that when I was studying for exams at the university, I would borrow lots of reference books and line them up on my study table. I would look at them and feel very confident that if I ever needed to refer to them they would be at hand.  

To be honest, I never touched those books, not for any of the exams I took. Having those books right in front of me every time I sat down to study my notes made me feel safe. Similarly, parents feel psychologically safe when they send their children for tuition, even though they may already be good students.  

So, do we blame school teachers for this tuition frenzy? 

If kids are reasonably intelligent, listen to their teachers during lessons, do their homework faithfully and are always one step ahead of the teacher (by reading up on the topic before the teacher starts teaching so that they know what the teacher is talking about), do self-study, and read widely, is there a real need for tuition?  

The tuition centres use marketing psychology to make parents panic by telling them that if they send their children to their centres, the kids are going to do well, but woe be unto them if they don't go for tuition. 

Slow-learners probably need tuition, but if classes at school are small they don’t either. Some tuition classes are simply replicas of the typical Malaysian classroom.  

Why torture our children? Some kids never experience real childhood because their life is a merry-go-round of school, tuition and more tuition (piano lessons, ballet lessons, swimming lessons, riding lessons and what have you). Whatever for? Are they going to end up super adults or freaks? Do they really enjoy all these lessons?  

It's a waste of time and petrol sending and fetching them to and from tuition/other lessons. Why not use the money to buy a set of first-class encyclopaedias or for their higher education? Why not spend the time saved in giving guidance to your children. Why surrender your responsibility entirely to the tuition centre?  

The time they spend travelling to and fro can be used for leisure-reading which is so very enjoyable, or even for watching TV. Not everything on TV is bad; there are cartoons, documentaries and entertaining movies to enjoy. 

Children could even spend time lazing about the house. Don’t ever think a child is wasting time if you find him doing nothing. He could be simply reflecting and using his imagination which is really important.  

Some kids have to take a bus or even buses for tuition classes and run the risk of getting kidnapped or harmed while waiting at bus stops. So, I wonder why parents go through all that trouble.  

The merits of tuition are negligible and in our folly we are simply enriching tuition centres which build their success on the hard work of school teachers. If school teachers are unethically willing to “leak” exam questions to students, all our kids would score. 

Children attend tuition for a short while and, wonder of wonders, their marks improve dramatically. Tuition centres must be better than Harry Potter’s School of Magic! But is there any real improvement?  

Teachers at school hold back much useful information which they impart to students who attend their tuition classes – a calculated move, all for the sake of money. 

Finally, kids today don’t know how to think anymore because they have tuition teachers to do all the thinking for them. Thinking takes too much effort, it is tedious and tiring. It's so much easier to let tuition teachers do their homework for them simply by providing them the answers.  

Children today don’t struggle to figure things out themselves. They run to their tuition teachers every time they are stumped. If one tuition teacher can’t help, it’s of no consequence as they have a plethora of them. Kids today are experts at taking the easy way out.  

It’s fine to provide children a lifeline in case they drown but why provide so many? Malaysian society needs to reinvent itself and become resourceful. We should not train our kids to become so dependent on others. Tuition helps create a culture of dependence amongst today’s schoolchildren. 

 

YAP LIAN CHIN 

Via e-mail 

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