Why teachers leave for tuition centres
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by kamom » Fri Aug 03, 2012 11:22 am
Published on Aug 03, 2012, ST forum
AS A parent and former teacher who is still involved in the education field, I wish to make some observations.
Since I started teaching in 1995, I have seen teachers who love and excel in the profession leave the service. Many do so because they cannot concentrate on what they love, that is, teaching and interacting with children.
Today, many such former teachers are anchors in successful tuition centres, doing superb jobs without the distraction of administrative duties, projects and committees.
Have our mainstream schools become distracted from the main goal of education? In the drive to provide more than an education, have we perhaps failed to deliver on good old education?
Teachers have too many things to do and cannot focus on teaching. That could be why the tuition industry is thriving - because schools fall short.
I can also understand why some teachers request that parents let their children have tuition.
They have to teach according to the level of the majority, so if most students have tuition, the teachers cannot slow down for the few that don't.
Thus, a vicious circle ensues: Good teachers leave to teach at centres while parents lose faith in the schools' ability to deliver good education, and turn to tuition.
There is a way out of this quandary - smaller class size.
A small class size is touted as a carrot in the gifted programme.
Herein lies a serious irony: Children who are innately blessed to achieve and are self-motivated learn well even in big groups, but those who are unable to motivate themselves due to low self-esteem are the ones who will really benefit from small class sizes.
This unfortunate reversal will surely hinder social mobility.
I am not calling for the opposite, but for equal treatment - small class sizes for all.
This investment can improve the quality of teaching, keep good teachers - managing 25 students is vastly different from managing 40 - and produce better adjusted children. It is not the only way, but I would argue that it is a truly important way forward for a developed country.
Recognising teachers who work with difficult students - academically or behaviourally - will also go a long way towards encouraging them. Calculating workload by the number of periods ignores the challenges of teaching difficult classes. A more equitable method can be devised.
Leong Sun Yee (Madam)
We see parcels of land being sold off to private developers for building private houses, one after another. Yet, our kids are squeezed into "shoe box" classrooms. I fully agree with the writer. My kids have been studying in the S'pore Int'l School in Shanghai. Classroom sizes are small. Not more than 20 kids per class. My ds was below average for his Normal Chinese when in SG. Over there because the teacher could pay attention to weaker students, he flourished from a 'D' to a 'B' in Higher Chinese cos' Normal Chinese was not offered at all. This is a clear example where small classroom is very beneficial for kids.
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