//vol.15-2 Parents』 Speak
I think that after-school tutoring is essential if you want your child to get ahead. This has nothing to do with the quality of education that the school or teachers provide; it has more to do with exam preparation and ensuring that there are no gaps in their understanding of the coursework. I want my children to go to the best universities and succeed in life. That only comes with hard work and sacrifice. Better that they learn it at this age.
Neither of my sons is very academic, they would much rather play video games or make online content and videos. I am fully aware – because of the number of times their teachers have told me – that neither of them pay attention in class. I know that they have talents, but these are not really academically related. Unfortunately, our entire system of education at the school level is based on examination results and book learning, so if I want my sons to have any kind of future, they must be able to pass their DSE exams.
I went to a vocational institute and not a university. I would like my sons to have better opportunities than me. If that means that if they need to go for extra tutorial classes, then that is what they will do. I will do anything for them to get ahead.
We are not Chinese, but we wanted our children to study Mandarin in school. There is no way that we can offer them support at home, so all three attend after-school language tutoring three times a week. This extra help is what they need to not only manage their homework but also to ensure that they can keep up in class and not fall behind.
I remember I had to go for extra classes, and now I send my daughter. I think it is a normal part of the education system.
I think that after-school tutoring is just another big business. I have read much about so-called ‘celebrity’ tutors and various tutorial schools with exorbitant rates. They all claim to teach good study habits, help develop confidence and boost self-esteem, as they “guarantee” admission into some Ivy League University or Oxbridge. I don’t believe it! The only reason I could see sending either of my children to a tutor is it they were just not able to understand what was being taught and the school was not offering any support.
I have to be honest; I used to send my son to a famous math and language tutoring school when he was younger. They taught him specific techniques and claimed to ‘develop his potential’ by making him solve worksheet after worksheet. I found that while his rote learning skills improved, nothing else did. By the time he was mid-way through Primary School, I stopped this. Now, he receives no afterschool tutoring because I have taught him that if he can’t figure something out, he needs first to ask his teacher and even check with his classmates. Both my husband and I are also here to help him with his work. This system works for him, but I can see how it might not for others.
I am rather ambivalent about after-school tutoring. It seems a waste of time if the children are paying attention in class and their test and exam results indicate they are passing. The money can be better spent on joining an extracurricular activity like art or sports, or music. There is no need to repeat a school day. It is much better to learn something new.
I am a single mother and have to count the costs. I know a lot of my children’s friends go for after-school tutoring and that they would like to, but I just cannot afford it. I have also noticed how those with tuition are exhausted, and some lack basic social skills. Maybe these are my justifications, but as neither of my girls is really failing, I think they can get through school on their own steam. My younger daughter benefits from having an older sister who can help her.
I see tutoring as necessary support for a weak student in the subjects he or she finds difficult. But the reality in Hong Kong (and I know this is true in many other Asian countries) is that parents are sending their children for tutoring to supplement or enhance their book learning in the hopes that they will do better in exams. That, to me is just silly. I see it as just adding pressure on the child and not allowing them to develop interests independently, just focusing on results.