I was dismayed to find that, of the Forum letters published recently on the topic of tuition, none looked at the phenomenon from a student's point of view even though the individual student is the key stakeholder ("Time for conversation on broader role of tuition" by Mr Dhevarajan Devadas, May 26; "Tutors' role in society often overlooked" by Mr Cornelius Chew Kok Mun, May 28; and "Teachers, tutors play different roles" by Dr Yik Keng Yeong, Forum Online, May 29).
The central aim of tuition is to give additional help to students who find regular classes to be insufficient, for whatever reason.
Having been a student not too long ago (I am 24 this year), this is my take on how we can reduce the need for tuition in a practical manner:
If we accept the premise that different students learn differently, then in any given class, there will be a mix of learners - for instance, visual, auditory or kinaesthetic learners.
Consequently, a teacher, no matter how good, cannot logically be ideal for all.
This mismatch between a particular teacher's ability to teach and a particular student's ability to learn creates frustration and angst in the learning process that, unfortunately, leads many students to simply give up in class.
Such students may then choose to attend tuition classes because they can pick a tutor whose teaching style they enjoy.
My proposal is that the Ministry of Education could set up a group comprising teachers with varied teaching styles who can each film high-quality curriculum content, which would then be distributed to all schools.
First, this proposal is practical because curriculum in Singapore is fixed.
Second, it ensures that good teachers are "shared" efficiently across all schools in Singapore.
Third, filming the content beforehand allows for stringent quality control.
Fourth, by having different styles of teaching on a particular topic, students would be able to pick who interests them most and, hopefully, can help them understand better.
Fifth, by removing the need for teachers to repetitively plan how to deliver content, teachers can then focus on exploring problem questions in class and guiding students through the finer aspects of the topic.
Ken Lee Jun Jie