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I have just read an insightful article on people’s attitudes to tutoring by Tom Maher of the Tutors Association.

It focuses on people’s perceptions of the value of tutoring, and how we interpret words such as private and personal. It also examines negative attitudes to tutoring.

Tom highlights three areas which deserve proper discussion, and I quote:

  • To engage openly and responsibly with the inequality context in which tuition is currently taking place. My personal experience of one-to-one tuition is one in which I see resources devoted towards preventing the already privileged from sliding down and not enough towards helping the less privileged to rise.
  • The UK’s tutoring industry should have no truck with essay-mills and plagiarism which undermines meritocratic educational provision and damages the British educational brand. In my years of working in tutoring, people asking for ‘help with editing coursework’ or requests to help someone ‘struggling with a dissertation’ although still thankfully infrequent have become more widespread. These types of requests should be seen for what they often are – euphemisms for ‘soft-cheating’. That’s not to say that assistance with a training emphasis is not legitimate but we need to be mindful of our responsibilities to behave ethically and to safeguard the UK’s educational reputation.
  •  Supplementary education in the Far East, especially in South Korea has become a rather brash and oppressive business. There seems to be evidence that children’s lives are adversely affected by this and the concomitant levels of stress associated with trying to pass exams has reached intolerable levels for many young pupils in Asia. The UK tutoring and supplementary education sector should be clear about wanting to work towards a healthy balance between study and other cultural and sporting activities. As a society, we should strive to produce independent-minded and rounded individuals not one-dimensional exam-passing automatons.

I agree with Tom, it is about time that we started to have a meaningful discussion about the role of tutoring in society, as I have lost count of the number of times the Press bemoan the industry of tutoring.

A great article, worth a read and certainly food for thought.



Tutoring, private lessons, coaching, personal tuition, one-to-one and how we describe what we do might matter in the end



One Response to “Tutoring and how we describe it might matter in the end”

  1. Christopher Binns

    I sometimes wonder why the press is against tutoring? I used to run a tutoring company, and the majority of my students were seeking help because they wanted to get into post-secondary education. In Canada, it is very competitive, and our students are faced with higher and higher averages required for acceptance.

    Students also find it difficult to ask their teachers for more help, especially in front of their peers. It is a lot safer to ask for help in a neutral environment.

    Personally, as long as the student is engaged and wants the tutoring; isn’t being forced to accept tutoring by their parents, I am all for tutoring. After all, learning and enlightenment isn’t solely reserved to the classroom.

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