What was the subject that confused you the most when you were at school? For me it was Physics – I just didn’t get it. I was okay at Maths and to this day, I can’t fathom out why Physics was such a problem.
In my school, and yes it was some time ago I will admit, the last thing a kid would do is ask for help. Why you may ask? Well there was the risk of looking foolish in front of your mates and the worry that you still wouldn’t understand it after another explanation.
When I did eventually pluck up the courage to ask for help, my teacher explained it again at twice the speed in the same way – I was too embarrassed to ask for help again.
Who knows, the world may have missed out on a world famous Physicist, after all Professor Peter Higgs of ‘Higgs Boson’ fame went to a neighbouring school in Bristol – all for the sake of a thoughtful five minute explanation of centripetal force.
Times have moved on. Things have improved right – err, not really.
My eldest son told me yesterday that his History A Level teacher had told him that he was only allowed two questions a class. Why two questions you may well ask – I sure did. What is magic about the number two? Has there been some academic research that says two questions produce the best exam results? I think not.
I was chatting to a friend yesterday who I went to school with – a long suffering secondary school teacher. The issue is quite simple – large class sizes mean that they simply cannot devote the one to one attention to the child. As soon as the lesson is over they are off to the next. Then there is marking to do, class assemblies, school reports…. the list goes on and on.
We as parents have to understand that education is a process, by which young minds are shaped and leave many years later (hopefully) with a load of GCSE’s, a sprinkling of A levels and the odd degree. It’s about getting lots of kids through with the right marks. There will be some that thrive and some that fail. There are insufficient teachers to give everyone that one to one help that many need.
As a parent, I find this enormously frustrating – it’s not as if we are not paying enough taxes, right? But realistically what can we do. The natural thing to do is to try and help. I don’t know about you, but I got left behind along time ago. Back in 2010, a survey by Britannica Online showed that more than 80% of parents can’t answer questions from the national curriculum. So what other options do we have?
That is where private tutoring comes in. Yes, you have to pay for it and at £20 to £40 per hour it is not cheap, I will admit. But at least it focuses on the needs of your child. One to one support can make a massive difference to a child’s confidence and understanding. It can make a real difference when it comes to getting into the right school or achieving the right exam results.
So rewinding the clock. Did I get help from a tutor – no.
Would it have made a difference – too right, and who knows Bristol may have had another prize winning Physicist.