Why Tutorial Centers Are Now Everywhere (And Why You Had Higher Grades Than Your Kids)

Photo: anorexiarecovery1.blogspot

Do you know the different types of teeth — the incisors, canines, premolars and molars? How about the different parts of a microscope, can you enumerate them or identify each part given a picture? Can you EXPLAIN their uses? 

Yes? Congratulations!!! You are qualified to tutor grade 3 pupils! 

Nope. That’s not a typo error. That’s really 3. As in T… H… R… E… E… 

You answered no? Okay, let’s try a grade 2 lesson…

Do you know the 3 branches of the government — executive, legislative and judiciary? Do you know their functions? Do you know how many senators, congressmen and justices we have?

Still no? Okay, preschool

Do you know the 7 continents and what countries belong to each? The different oceans, do you know their names? 

Ridiculous, eh? I had the same thoughts when I saw that in my students’ handouts. I was like, “Huh! Microscope for grade 3? I learned this in high school!” The lessons nowadays are already so advance!

Also, the implementation of the K to 12 curriculum posed additional challenges not only to the students but to the educators as well. Unlike before where you only had to learn biology in second year high school, chemistry in third year and physics in fourth year — now, students have to learn chunks of all these subjects (aside from general science) in their freshman year.**

Lastly… parents, never compare your grades to your kids’ not unless the grades you’re bragging*** about were after the implementation of the zero-based policy. The what??? Well, in 2003, DepEd released an order changing the computation of grades into simply “score ÷ number of items” whereas during our time (at least a decade ago 😉 ), I remember it was “(score ÷ number of items) x 50 + 50.” Wow, nosebleed.

What’s the difference?  Let’s just say that if you get 7 correct answers in a 10-item quiz, your rating will just be 70%; whereas before — drum rolls please — that was equivalent to 85%!!! Now, if you’re grade-conscious and allergic to line of 8 and below, you should only get one mistake to get even just a 90. See how difficult it is now to get grades 90 and above? (Note: I’ve heard of the new grading system with letter grades but I haven’t actually seen any of it. School teachers, what’s the latest update about this?)

Given the increasing difficulty of lessons and school challenges the students have to deal with nowadays, there has also been an increasing demand for the assistance of specialists. If before it was easy to self-study or have your parents teach you, well, not anymore. And I must add the fact that due to economic reasons, the number of housewives (who used to teach the kids) have fallen in favor of the number of careerwomen.

So don’t wonder why tutorials sprouted like mushrooms. 

And don’t look down on kids who go to tutors. It’s not that they do so because they are dumbos (the common misconception), but because school is just… hard.

Aim high,

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* DISCLAIMER: These are lessons from exclusive private schools. I’m not familiar/updated with public school lessons. Please educate me by posting your comments below.
** Now called Grade 7 under the K to 12 curriculum
*** Personally, I disagree with the practice of comparing your kids’ achievement to yours. Actually, I disagree with any kind of comparison.

Photo Credit: anorexiarecovery1.blogspot


Parents, Don’t Send Your Kids to Tutors


At least not right away. Not because a kid got low grades in school he already needs a tutor. Just no.

As a tutor myself, I know this is like killing the profession that’s feeding me. And maybe my fellow tutors would love to kill me in return. But hear me out first.

I’m not saying you should never send your kids to tutor. What I’m saying is, you have to think first if it’s really a tutor he needs. 

I’ve seen a lot. Indeed, most of our tutees fared well when they started having tutorials. But there are cases where there seems to be no improvement no matter what we do. Not once have we handled students who we tried giving to different tutors. Teacher N even gave them the best teachers. She thought they just needed another approach. No avail. Eventually, the parents pulled them out. However, I knew that wherever tutorial center they put their kids into, the results would just be the same.

Every now and then, a student would tell me, “You have to give me high grades.”

Huh? Am I the one taking the exam? 

Parents, manage your expectations. Tutors are not magicians — that when you send your kids to us, their grades would automatically shoot up. 

I’m not washing my hands clean. But reviewing for exams is a team work of both the student and the teacher. During reviews, I give my best effort to prepare my tutees for exams. One mistake in the worksheet would earn them additional 5 questions to answer. Thus, I have a love-hate relationship with the kids. They like me as me, but they complain that I torture them during reviews. They couldn’t go unless I’m satisfied they’re ready. But at the end of it all, that’s just 50% work done. The rest is up to them.

It happens too often that no matter how good their performance has been during review, they could still get failing results. When I check their answer sheets, it frustrates me to see incorrect answers to questions that were basically the same as the ones we reviewed. They got them right during review but not in the actual exam.

Photo: haaretz.com





Taking exams does not only require mental preparedness. It also has a physical aspect to it. (How can you concentrate if you’re not feeling well?) More than that, it requires emotional preparedness —  of having the attitude of not giving up, of the ability to handle pressure. And this is the part where parents could help.

We cannot expect tutors to be able to impart these traits to the students in a short span of time. It’s a cumulation of all the values they have imbibed since birth. Teachers teach them good values too but they need your help. WE need your help.

Every now and then I encounter students who are so challenging to teach. Hours would pass and lots of energy would be spent reviewing not because they’re dumb but because of their attitude towards studies. There are students who are so smart but get low grades because of mediocrity. They’re used to, “Pwede na yan!” They do not give their best. Then there are students who always try to hide their homeworks from us just because they want to play or are just lazy to do it. 

Attitude means a lot. If they have only learned the importance of obedience, responsibility, initiative, discipline or hard work early on, parents would save a lot on tutoring fees. They wouldn’t have to pay on tutorial sessions that were half spent on learning and half spent on policing the kids. They may even not need tutors at all. Kids like that can study on their own.

This is not an exhaustive list of reasons why kids don’t do well in school. There can also be other factors affecting them — school bullies, boring teachers, tiring sked, relationship, family or money problems. But at least think about these things before hiring a tutor.

And of course, I’m not discounting the fact that the quality of tutor you hire has an impact on your kid’s academics. You might chance on a tutor who may be underqualified or is just not right for your kid. But that’s another story worthy of another post. 😉

Given that I love tutoring and I need tutees to earn a living, I don’t accept tutorial requests right away. I’m still an advocate of independence. Fellow tutors might hate me for saying this, but parents, please don’t send your kids to tutors just because you can… but because you need to. 

Aim high,

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Photo Credits:

1st: see watermark; 2nd: haaretz.com

I Told My Students I Cheated in High School

Photo  Credit: Tono Balaguer

“Yes, I cheated.”

That was my brave answer when my two long-time tutees asked me if I ever cheated in school. It could have cost me their respect but I admitted it anyway. Their eyes grew wide in disbelief, “Really?!!!”

I don’t smoke. I don’t drink. I don’t gamble. I don’t even curse. I have high grades in the prestigious state university where I am taking up my MA. And they know all these things. They call me “Miss Perfect.” They believe I can do no wrong. Well, akala lang nila yon! 

I was just in grade 1 when I was first caught copying my classmate’s answers (just because I didn’t hear the dictated question). In grade 2, my adviser used to sit me beside her during exams because I was such a “loud” test-taker that the whole class would hear my answers. In high school, I didn’t attend P.E. classes because I didn’t want my crush (from a higher batch) to see me doing “stupid” things. In other subjects, I wasn’t paying attention as I was staring out the doors, waiting for that crush to pass by. Malandi!!! Also, I was always late for school that there was a grading quarter when I had no grade for the first subject. There were times I slept in class. And the one I was talking about: my teacher in algebra caught me copying my friend’s answers. I was a math contestant but I was tamad to think and it was so fun copying. The risk of being caught! (Imagine that teacher finding out I was elected Math Club president the following year. Haha.) Most of all, I never reviewed for exams. Ang tunay na matalino hindi nag-aaral, stock knowledge lang! (Yabang! I realized now how wrong I was.)

Photo: http://onlinedatahub.com

When I became a teacher, I learned through my experiences how easily kids pick up adults’ behavior — especially the ones they look up to — so I tried (and is trying) hard to become a good role model to my students. I stopped cursing and I became mindful of my behavior around them. I sit straight, I keep my things organized, I say “Thank you” and “Excuse”, et cetera. And since I push my students to get stellar grades, I make sure I practice what I preach. The once tamad student started listening and reviewing hard for her exams. Little by little, I became their “Miss Perfect (in their eyes only, of course).

But why risk my reputation?

Because I want them to know that I haven’t always been the “Miss Perfect” that I seem to be. That I am human. That I also had my ups and downs as a student. That I was tamad and irresponsible. That I made a lot of mistakes which I now regret (I could have gotten higher honors for example). And by doing so, they would know that although they “suck” now, they, too, can change like me. Why, they are way better than me when I was their age!

I know most of us try our best to be a good example to our kids. We usually tell them how great we were during our student days. “When I was a student I always had honors.” Or, “When I was a student I always won during contests.” Or, “I never engaged in fights!” However, we often miss telling them our failures when telling them these things is just as important. Isn’t it more inspiring when we hear rags to riches stories than the success stories of people who were born with a silver spoon? Just the same, if we tell the kids about the hardships we hurdled in school and how we bounced back higher to become who we are today, they would think they can do the same. That failing a quiz is normal and they can always do better next time.

My friends, don’t be afraid to show your kids the human side of you.

Aim high,

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Photo Credits:

1st: © Tono Balaguer; 2nd: onlinedatahub.com