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Private Tuition - Pain or Gain?


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Private Tuition - Pain or Gain?


In an economic downturn, why is that private tuition thrives?

The natural course of thinking is that hiring a private English tutor, for a child whose mother tongue is English, would be surplus to requirements! Surprisingly, the tutors continue to work. All this beggars the question, ’Why?’

When times are hard and people are struggling with wage freezes, coupled with rises in the cost of living, why hire a private tutor? What is it about one to one tuition that parents see as a valid expense, when the economy is officially in recession? Why do parents cut back in areas such new clothes and forego holidays but ensure that their children are at the front of the queue for education?


Book or Tutor?

For the cost of one hour’s tuition, it is sometimes possible to purchase one or even two books that will guide the would-be examination candidate through the vagaries of the subject curriculum. If the teacher uses those very same books, why can’t parents simply purchase them, use them, tutor their offspring and save money?

If only life was that easy?


Qualifications and Experience

'One swallow doesn’t a summer make' and one book doesn’t an examination candidate make! A qualified and experienced tutor will have spent years climbing the academic ladder and many subsequent years honing their craft. This will include, not only an intimate knowledge of the subject but also the ability to condense that knowledge into handouts, lecture notes and audio visual presentations.

Then, of course, there is the small problem of teaching it! Knowledge of a subject is one thing – the ability to impart that knowledge is a totally different skill. We have all had to suffer bad teachers, knowing that they do, in fact, know their subject – it’s just that they can’t teach it!

So, a book is one thing – a tutor is another; and ne’er the twain shall meet.


Small Classes Good – Big Classes Bad

Like a chant from George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’ the mantra of: ‘Small Classes Good - Big Classes Bad’, can be heard echoing throughout the corridors of power around the world.

If the ‘top’ jobs in society are politicians, doctors, lawyers and business leaders, then there is irrefutable evidence that those educated in classes of smaller numbers go on to succeed in the top jobs. Much research has been undertaken in the United Kingdom, looking at the make-up of the top 5% and their educational backgrounds. The research cannot be refuted. Those attending fee paying schools are taught in classes with fewer pupils than those attending state run schools. Those ‘lucky' pupils achieve better grades, attend the ‘best’ universities and eventually enter the top professions listed above. There are always exceptions to this rule but, on the whole, ‘Small Classes Good – Big Classes Bad’.


One To One Tuition

Should you be prepared to accept the above, then could it not be said that ultimately the ‘best’ situation is simply that of tutor and tutee, i.e. one to one?

There are those that might complain that this is rather an unhealthy situation because of the lack of human interaction that class contact brings. This is surely a valid point. Pure one to one tuition, throughout the academic life of a student, surely cannot be good for that person. ‘People need people’ and schools are perfect providers for that.

Ideally, I would argue that small classes alongside one to one tuition, would be the ideal mix for a balanced education.


20 hours Private Tuition is better than one year in large class

I have found this statement banded about on the internet but I am not convinced.

A statement has been made, presumably by a private tutor touting for business (!), but I see no research figures to back up the statement. I have given many students twenty or more hours tuition and I can say, without a shadow of a doubt, that the tutees almost invariably make significant progress. Also, that they stand a far better chance of passing their English examination, than if they had not had the tuition.


Tutors Move at the Student's pace

Generally speaking, in a class, the ‘brightest’ have to wait while the others catch up; while the ‘slowest’ are likely to be left behind floundering. The result is that those in the ‘middle’ probably benefit most because the teacher will have to find a happy medium to satisfy as many pupils as possible.

With private tutoring in a one to one situation, the student will be stretched to achieve his/her full potential. It is impossible to lag behind because there is no one to come second to!

Experienced tutors move at the student's pace – no faster and no slower.


SO  –  Private Tuition - Pain or Gain?

Surely the answer is ‘gain through pain’!

If the finance can be found, strengths can be worked on and the grade ‘A’ can be elevated to the dizzy heights of an ‘A*’ and those on the borderline pass/fail ‘C’ or ‘D’ can be coaxed into the ‘C’ band.

Whether it be private English tuition, one to one Sociology lessons, private tutoring in Theatre Studies or a home Child Development tutor, it all culminates in the same conclusion – all are educationally beneficial and private tutoring is here to stay. Recession or no recession!

'Economic downturn - what economic downturn?' Chant the private tutors.


Dean Nixon is a private English tutor in Stoke On Trent, Staffordshire, England. Working with him is

Norma Shaw who offers private Sociology tuition.

Please feel free to be a guest blogger at our Experienced Tutors blog.


(C) 2012 Experienced Tutors


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