Priorities: Wants Vs Needs

With lives that are busier than ever, we constantly prioritise (often ruthlessly!) to have any chance to fit it all in. Naturally, the juggling act often boils down to competing factions of those things we need to do, and those we want to do. As a private tutor, I find that investment in private tuition falls mostly in to the ‘Want’ camp. But more on that later.

As a work from home dad, I walk a tight rope of responsibilities daily and I know only too well what it’s like to balance work and family life. Time at the weekends is precious and time must be carved up wisely to get the most from them.

After all, where would I rather spend my time, taking a ticket and joining a seemingly endless queue in the kids’ shoe shop, or doing something fun outside or at softplay? Yes, the fun stuff will usually win!

We do it all the time, don’t we? We know the roof needs attention, but we’re enjoying great weather and so we put if off until the autumn. Suddenly, we have water coming in and we’re dismayed to find that we can’t get instant access to a reputable roofer or builder. It’s well known that the best people get booked up, but we’re surprised anyway! I think it may just be a way of feeling better about the whole thing.

And so it is with education, and in exam preparation in particular. We know that cramming isn’t the answer and we also know that most tutors aren’t miracle workers. Yet every year, there’s a stampede for help when it’s suspected that children are going to come up short in the exams.

The simplest way to avoid shortcomings through the use of private tuition is to engage early. Thorough learnings, exam preparation and confidence building, across the terms pays massive dividends.

This is fixing the roof while the sun is shining!

For many students, it may be a case of too little too late when it’s left until the last minute. Even with the best private tutor, a student that is under intense stress, or perceived pressure to succeed, is in the worst place to learn from. Will there be improvements? Yes, certainly. But not on the scale that a planned schedule of learning would deliver, which would also have also avoided the stress for all involved.

I’ve written before (see article here) about priorities and if you’ve read my articles before, you’ll know I believe in each to his or her own and about personal choice. This came into view again recently in the BBC programme on Grammar Schools and the 11+. A lady earning £8 per hour was spending £300 per month on tuition for her child. Why? She wanted to. She wanted the best for her child and it was clear that the mother would move heaven and earth to provide greater opportunity than she had experienced.

It wasn’t about need. It was about want and a burning desire to progress and something that outweighed the challenge of raising the funds, or personal sacrifice.

We generally find the time and money for things we really want to do. I do appreciate however, that as much as it may be wanted, sometimes investment in tuition, may remain out of reach, regardless of motivation.

With that in mind, some of you may have noticed the addition of ‘friendship groups’ which have been added to lower the cost to each student. In the coming months, you will also see my work around social mobility begin to bear fruit with the launch of the MST Foundation.

More on that to follow and if you’re someone who’s firmly in the ‘want’ camp and hasn’t been able to find a way to make tuition for your child a reality, this is for you.