Keeping up with the Joneses: has your kid got a tutor?
From BBC Breakfast this morning was a preview of tonights wry look at those who have and those who have not in the BBC 2 (8.30pm) The Madness of Modern Families (it comes just after the equally depressing Dr Alice Roberts' Don't Die Young). One of the topics? Tutors.
It got me thinking (again) at whether schools and Local Authorities should not be nipping the tutor trade in the bud and providing something more, something better and for free.
I only ever had a piano teacher when I was at school, but some might say that I did well in my other subjects because I happened to have two 'professionals' on my back all the time. But when I got stuck in Physics, Mathematics or Geography I had great teachers who spent time in their lunch hours or after school, for free, taking me through what I had failed to keep up with in class. They were, I felt, Good Teachers.
Later in life, in the first year at Edinburgh University, I found myself submerged by a fairly poor (OK, bloody awful) understanding of French and German grammar. In the case of French my language tutor, Dr Brian Barron, took me aside at least a half dozen times in that first term to help me 'get' the perfect tense vs the imperfect. He's now Dean of the Arts Faculty. Just shows that Good Teachers make it places ;-)
Even in my professional life Good Teachers have been there to offer some free advice 'after hours' to help out. My old PE teacher at Dunoon Grammar took me into the school gym one Christmas eight years ago and spent four hours showing me how to scale 12 foot walls, jump hurdles without breaking my neck and jump through open windows head first without, again, breaking my neck (that was for the Army exams, not teaching).
My current bosses are more than happy to take five minutes out of their own busy schedules to give me their help in managing others or getting through projects.
Why, then, do we allow the kids in our classes to go off to private tutors, paying between £25 and £50 an hour for help which, really, the school might be able to provide? And what are the rates of private tuition elsewhere around the world?
- Is it a case that the school doesn't know who needs more help?
- Is it the case that kids in classes where they don't like the teacher or the teacher is, shock and horror, just not very good, don't feel that they can approach another teacher in that school to ask for help?
- Is this not an issue we could do something about to save our families' money and bring more respect for the expertise in our schools back to those schools?
Mums' and dads' views as welcome as those at the chalkface.