Jan 17 2013
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I am sitting on the fence and sometimes I think I contradict myself. Tuition, to attend or not to attend.
Tuition is part of almost every student’s life in Malaysia. Providing tuition is a lucrative business. You see tuition centers sprouting all around the neighborhood, on top of that you have a choice for private home tutors (which both my parents are) to provide one to one tutoring service, and then there’s these private tuition groups available at daycare centers, rented house and home of the tutor. Even schools offer after class/weekend tuition service.
It’s really necessary to attend tuition?
For the first 3 1/2 years of JS’s schooling journey, she has not attended tuition. I thought I could teach her myself. For me, education is a process of obtaining knowledge not for sitting for exams. I feel that all tuitions are gearing to prepare students on sitting exam and promising how many As they will get. I feel that tuition is merely tutor giving out a lot of worksheets and get them to do repetitive works, giving exam answering tactics and not so much of imparting knowledge. When I coach my children, it is very different. We often branched out from what is cover inn the books and we took very long time and a little further to do research. I want them to truly understand and to know how it these knowledge are related in our daily life and how to adapt what they learn in real life. But it’s a very long and tedious process which do not promise instant result. You won’t see it right now and then, you won’t see what they’ve gained from their exam marks. All these while JS grades were average, not top of her class, but good enough not be anywhere near the bottom. Her marks remained between 50 – 90. But starting last year, after the 3rd exam of the year, I notice marks for certain subjects had gone down.
As much as i would like to convince myself marks aren’t important and we don’t judge our children by marks, I do have a little worries. A little feeling of something needs to be done. The father feels that something needs to be done too, hence we started looking up for tuition class for her.
I was quite reluctant to start off this tuition trend for my children. I wanted so much to be full involved in their education. I don’t want to tax and wear them out with extra tuition class (some gives extra homework to be done at home, some have endless essays, words to memorize) . I always have the thought that tuition centers merely buy extra workbooks for them to do, which it not a difficult task for me. But what was difficult for me was to sit down coaching them without distraction from the two younger ones. As much as i love to do it myself, my hands are full as I don’t have a maid. I am not a superwoman and some task needs to be outsourced. Hence with hesitation, we started off sending JS for tuition and getting a private tutor for WH. But i told the kids if they find it too much to bear, then we will work out something else. I told them that by sending them to tuition is not aiming for them to score 100 marks , we are just getting extra help in explaining what they learn in school.
She started her tuition lesson in Aug 2012 and ended in Oct 2012 (class ended along with school holidays). She was happy with the class , she didn’t feel it was an extra burden. In fact during year end award presentation, she received a “improvement award” (学业进步奖）from school, which we have not expected. We didn’t know this award existed. I do wonder for a second , was it solely her own effort, or was it the tuition class. Would she have made it without tuition?
When the new school term started, I was taking my own sweet time deciding on tuition. As she is in std 5 this year, the school requires them to attend weekend tuition. During the first week of school, she was so bored after school, running out of inspiration to do any craft, she begged me to send her for tuition. I said hold your horses, you don’t even know what activities you will be signing up yet. I don’t want to end up you being tired and worn off.
Later during the second week of school, she told me “my principal said if attend this tuition from school and if we pay attention in class everyday, that is sufficient already, we no longer need any extra tuition from outside” Sounds good to me. So we were discussing, that if she goes to school tuition, then I won’t look for anymore tuition for her like last year. I always keep my option open and I always let them know if one thing own work out, we always have the flexibility to find a workaround.
Then came the notice and form from school. I noticed that the school tuition is to be held twice a month on Saturday after their extra curicular activities which starts at 7.30a.m and ends at 9a.m. Straight on, they need to sit in for tuition till 12pm. We were not given the option to choose what subjects to choose, in fact there is no option to say that the student can be exempted. Which means from 9a.m to 12p.m, they have to sit in for 5 subjects in a normal class environment. Which is no difference from a normal school day. How effective this would be? I doubt.
There and then I decided it’s a waste of time to attend and I told her there is no need to go and I have written a letter of exemption for her. I told her class teacher also (she is our neighbor), she was asking if it’s because of transport issue and she can help me with the fetching. I told her Saturday is our family day.
At the same time i found a tuition center (more of a daycare center that offers tuition) near home which she likes and she has attended two session so far and she is enjoying it as some of her friends are there. Three days out of the week in the afternoon, she goes for tuition for two hours for BM, Mandarin and Science. She wanted Maths too.. but for me, I feel spending four afternoon after school at tuition is very tiring .. really sounds like I am a super lazy mum which prioritize REST , REST and REST! By the way, unlike any Chinese school, JS has got not many homework from school. If she doesnt go for tuition, her afternoons are usually free and easy and pretty relaxing.
As for WH who’s suppose to have his private tuition resumed , has got no need for tuition anymore. SK syllabus is really far more relaxing than Chinese school. I will coach him on his BM personally until to the extend i no longer can help.
Something to ponder on though… why Malaysian student needs tuition..
- It is because our ministry of education had set a very high standard of syllabus whereby our students aren’t able to cope and absorb all the knowledge till the extend they need tuition to catch up
- It is because of school teacher’s incapability? Is it because school teacher do not know how to teach, hence students need tuition to learn what they are suppose to learn?
- Is it because of the students problem? What makes them the lack of capability to adsorb what is taught in school.
- Is it parental problem? Whereby parents think that 90% is not good enough and they are aiming for the children to be in the top 5?
As mother who wants to unschool, feels a little guilty of sending her kids to tuition. But today, I stumbled on this , and it makes me feel relief a little’
unschooling does not mean that we don’t ever do workbooks, that we don’t ever practice our math skills, that we don’t seek out mentors and put our children in formal classes. We do all of those things. What it does mean is that I don’t expect them to learn anything at a predetermined time. I don’t believe that when it comes to learning there is some magical age appropriate topic that you must study when you reach a certain age or that learning can only be obtained through workbooks, textbooks, and tests.
To me, unschooling means that you educate outside of the box, that you use the resources, the community, and the real life opportunities that surround you to raise curious, knowledge-seeking children.
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