Thursday, September 19, 2013

Not into tuition

I don't have fond memories of tuition. In secondary school, my grades were atrocious. The parents tried to remedy the situation by engaging tutors for me. Each hour spent with one tutor or another was such a drag.

In the classroom, I was only one of forty kids. We were all terrified of being called upon to answer the teacher's questions, but there was always a thirty-nine in forty chance that we wouldn't be called. At the tuition table (on Friday evenings, it became Dad's mahjong table) there was only me and the tutor, and I had to answer all the questions.

I wasn't terrified of any of the tutors. It wasn't that personal. What I dreaded was having my freedom of movement curtailed, having to sit still for that hour, hour-and-a-half chained to the table while life went on around me... elsewhere.

I didn't have as much tuition as today's kids. But having to sit through each interminable experience every week was traumatic every time. I realize now that I'm a better kinesthetic learner than a sit-down-and-mug learner, so maybe that had something to do with my sensation of claustrophobia while making my poor tutor earn every last 1-cent coin of his or her monthly paycheque.

Was it worth it in the end? Well, without tuition, I was failing. With tuition, I failed anyway. And I'm talking about the big exams. My best subjects were the ones that didn't require extra tuition in, so I didn't get the benefit of having tuition pull my Bs to As. Knowing me, I'd probably get them pulled down to Cs with tuition.

I can't speak either for or against the mania for after-school tuition as it stands today. All I can say is that if I didn't want to learn something, no amount of tuition would have helped. But maybe the tuition allowed my parents to think that they did their best for their kid who liked to read (garbage), yet didn't have the smarts for school.

But they also paid for my college tuition years later, and for that, I will always be grateful.

No comments: