I was speaking with someone recently, who is a father of two teenage boys. We were discussing academic achievement and the benefits of private tuition and it became clear that there were several other drivers at play.
The father said to me, “It didn’t really matter to me whether the boys were Einsteins or not. The most important thing I can deliver is two happy, well-mannered and most of all, happy young men. Everything beyond that is a bonus.”
So, why pay for tuition?
“Well, I don’t really feel that it’s the tuition I’m paying for, in many respects.”
Hang on. What?
The father went on:
“It’s everything else that goes with it.
- Spending time expanding their horizons and not gaming on the internet
- The ability to solve problems is something they need for exams, yet it’s a skill that will serve them throughout their lives, and long after I’m gone
- Hearing them say they’re tired but they go to tuition anyway, returning with a smile
- Watching them grow and develop beyond what one might think possible
- Letting them feel what self-generated breakthroughs and success looks and feels like
- Learning to be disciplined and focused and seeing the effects
- Helping them to deeply enjoy learning and getting the most from their school years and beyond
- Developing finely honed listening skills and applying what they hear
- Knowing how not to give up in the face of temporary defeat
- Understanding that small wins come together to form the greater victories
- Seeing them push through barriers and the sense of achievement that comes with it
- Seeing what accomplishing goals does for their confidence
The list goes on a while, but in summary, that’s what I’m paying for. I’m not paying for tuition per se, or the exam achievements that inevitably follow. It’s the skills that will serve them forever, and one I hope they’ll pass on if they have children of their own.
So, is it worth the investment? I don’t think I need to answer that!”.
Even as a tutor, this made me stop and think. It can be so easy to lose sight of the bigger picture, especially in this busy time as we approach GCSE and A Level exams.
In thinking about it further, I was reminded of this testimony I received from a delighted parent:
“My daughter attended lessons with Muhammad over a few months running up to her GCSE exams. She has dyslexia and struggles in most subjects but specifically in the sciences. She is also shy with new people and it often takes a long time for her to feel comfortable and trust that she won’t be judged because of her shortcomings. Muhammad made her feel comfortable very quickly and the fact that he teaches out of his family home, helped to make her feel at ease.
Her results in her mocks would suggest that there really wasn’t much hope of her passing Science (she failed quite spectacularly). They worked across the science disciplines (Physics and Chemistry) and to our delight and surprise she did pass with a C. This has given a huge boost to her confidence and she can see that putting in the extra time after school actually did pay off.”
It really is about more than exams and grades. I have no doubt that just the enhanced confidence alone will have a lasting, positive and life-changing effect.
And it’s these types of conversations and examples like this that remind me why being a tutor is the best job in the world.