Updated: Feb 19, 2019
Stressed time-poor parents, green plastic seating, toddlers bounced on knees, distracted by phones, waiting, while older siblings work to finish their session in front of the computer while pimply faced tutors supervise ‘progress’. It is a typical afterschool scene played out around Australian suburbs by well-meaning parents who do want the best for their kids but have been lured into believing that this is the only educational solution.
As child care has become big businesses so to have we seen the rise of tutoring centres a very lucrative field as parents strive to give children an academic edge for entry into selective schools. These centres may fill a need for older students to help prepare and focus their students for exams or maximise efficient study in a particular subject. The hidden cost for younger students may be much more damaging in the long run for the child then parents may be aware. It may be the first thing people suggest if there is perceived educational challenge, and it may seem initially, cheaper, quicker and a more straightforward solution then seeking out answers and a path that works for your unique child. Mass produced one size education that fits all is a falsehood. Comparable to a fast food menu, it initially looks good, may even come with little toys, but its long-term consumption may have adverse effects on your child’s educational health and well being.
There are lovely, awe-inspiring private tutors, trained and accredited, who focus upon the academic needs of their students but also consider the child’s learning journey and of vital importance developmentally appropriate activities.
These businesses that tutor children are businesses, they are self-regulated, though the Australian Tutoring Association provides a voluntary code of conduct. They make money by finding weaknesses. Here lies the issue, it is well understood that if you look for flaws, you will see them. Conversely, look for strengths, and you will find them. Your child may be experiencing a learning difficulty that may not be picked up by these self -regulated providers and they may be doing more significant damage to their self-concept and self-esteem when all along it may be a condition entirely out of there control.
When has doing more of the same thing again, in the same way ever progress student learning? Learning that enables and empowers and even inspires children to learn more for the sheer sake of learning and exploring! Perhaps for neurotypical children, progress may be measurable because of the sheer force of repetition, and it may even be of benefit in the short term, but it isn’t learning it is just consuming fish it is not teaching them how to fish. Children with processing disorders or learning difficulties, more of the same, only gnaws at their precarious self-esteem and solidifies their critical inner voice.
We have learned so much recently about how we learn how the brain processor information, our society changes so rapidly that we can not predict the type of future employment but we can predict children will undoubtedly need to be able to know how to learn, to adapt to change. Schools are now adjusting to change by focusing on process while content is still essential. These ‘learning’centres focus on step by step by step conveyor belt educational. An industrial era form of education not based on the skills and competencies required for the children of the future. Teachers and educators are no longer the disseminators of information the World Wide Web, Siri and Youtube have seen that information is readily available. These franchised centres in which one size fits all, in which all square pegs will fit into round holes are undoing the strong progress schools make every day. Content is no longer king it is the process of learning how to learn in the context of strong values and virtues that guide the learning journey, A band-aid now is an anchor for their future.
Some bright children do progress and progress and progress and get more than an edge of the competition but are taught well beyond what is expected of them academically and are ready for emotionally. This afterschool time, time that perhaps many would agree should be spent being a child. Overextension is especially true in mathematics. This self-regulated money making industry progress clients from one mathematical concept to another, yet what has been found and supported that these children lack the resilience to adapt to new and unexpected situations. New situations are exactly what their future will be. Furthermore, many teachers have heard the ‘I know how to do this’ echoing around their classroom, and while I love the challenge of diversifying the learning in the classroom, there are times when it is more critical and in the child’s best interest to learn broadly. Deepen their understanding rather than just blindly following the bouncing ball.
If concerned by your child’s progress, then seek out a deeper understanding of your child’s school. Seek out support groups perhaps a referral from a GP to a paediatrician. Irwin’s Dyslexia clinics, Speech Pathologists, Occupational Therapists, developmental Phycologists are all professionals that may help you help your child find their ‘mojo’.
Australians are so blessed as there is more than one way to succeed to be successful to find their niche in the arts, sports, science literature math etc. As a parent, you help guide your child to find their path one of tutoring session may fill a gap may even be good for high school students to help them get their head around a subject. Tutoring term after term weekends and more may cause more issues than you are paying for. Eating fast food today while making you feel full it won’t make any visible difference tomorrow. However, if you ate fast food every day within a year, the results would be, well devastatingly obvious. Education, learning, our children’s inner voices will suffer when they are fed a steady diet of low nutritional fast facts just to get ahead as quickly forgotten as your last fast food meal..