What’s the point of tutoring?

Mar 12, 2019Careers and University, NCEA, Parent advice, Study Tips

It’s a question many parents and students alike will ask when deciding whether to get a tutor: is there any point? If so, what is it?


For a long time, tutoring has long been typecast as a service for the “struggling” student. Even the word “tutor” has stigma attached to it – which sadly means many kids would rather struggle through their studies than ask for help.


But there are many greater purposes to tutoring, benefits so liberating they can change the lives of all kids for the better.


At Inspiration Education, we believe that tutoring can empower anyone and everyone, no matter how smart, organised, motivated or high-achieving they might be.


In this article, we’ll explain why.



1. Personalised teaching



School systems today are standardised. What this means is they apply a “one-size-fits-all” model to learning – you either fit the mould or you don’t. If you fall within the latter group, your learning is probably going to suffer in the classroom, no matter how smart you are.


There are lots of dedicated teachers out there who will try to attend to each of their students on their own. But classrooms are crowded, fast-paced environments. It’s hard to give every student the time they deserve when you’ve got 29 others wanting the same attention.


Tutoring – especially one-on-one tutoring – reinforces what you’ve learned in the classroom in a personalised context.


Great tutors are those who know how to make the material “click” for their student on a personal level. Whether this is through different teaching methods – or simply adopting a slower-pace –  it’s the same result.



Tutoring gives students the chance to go through the material in a way that works for them: opening them to a world of opportunities within and beyond that subject.


Not only will it improve their grades, but personalised teaching also has a range of other benefits.


Students might realise they actually quite enjoy the subject, instead of hating as they thought they did. We’ve even seen some of our students go on to study these very subjects at Tertiary level, or become tutors in the subjects themselves.


By starting with the learner – personalised tutoring makes success possible for every student.



2. Motivation and dedication



American filmmaker Stanley Kubrick once said:



“I think the big mistake in schools is trying to teach children anything, and by using fear as the basic motivation. Fear of getting failing grades, fear of not staying with your class, etc. Interest can produce learning on a scale compared to fear as a nuclear explosion to a firecracker.”




It’s true that fear drives action, but that’s doesn’t mean it’s a healthy way of learning. It’s no secret that young people are becoming more and more anxious. Our student-education platform StudyTime recently found that a whopping 86% of its audience experienced school-related anxiety regularly, and only 61% of them said they were happy at school most of the time.


So what can tutoring do about it?


In a school context, well, a lot. A simple remedy for performance-anxiety at school is gently rebuilding the motivation and confidence of the student. Whether they’re an anxious perfectionist or a chronic procrastinator – the root cause is the same: fear of failing.


The best tutors know that having strict expectations or “standards” can actually do more damage than good. Instead, our tutors focus on opening early opportunities for success for their students’ learning.


For example, instead of worrying what the class is doing or what the standard expects, a good tutor will first make sure that their student genuinely believes in their own capability.



By setting realistic goals, supervising the working process, giving lots of reassurance and tracking their progress – a good tutor helps their student find their own personal power, and build a genuine belief in their own potential. 



Incremental “wins” in each lesson will inspire them to reach for the next goal, and the next, until they find themselves driven to succeed – not because they are scared of failure – but because they’re inspired to succeed.



As well as confidence, the simple commitment of weekly lessons gives students who feel “lost”  the basic structure to take control of their studies. “It gives them the opportunity, at least once a week, to do some work,” says one of our tutors, Raaghav. “From then, they’ll be like: ‘hey, here’s what I need to do, let’s continue on with it.’”


These two ingredients – confidence and persistence – are the magical formula for motivation.


As one of our tutors Lucy says, this works best when it comes from someone on the outside – who has no personal connections to the student – but cares about their success nonetheless: Tutoring allows someone outside of the school to kind of assess the situation and be like: ‘how can we change this? How can we make the student enjoy their school more, or make it more effective?’ it’s good for people who want the ability to have someone on the outside, who’s almost holding their hand, going ‘this is what we’re going to do to answer your issues.”



3. Preparing them for the real world



In a recent article by the Big Idea, author Andrea Simpson talked about the growing importance of an arts degree in tomorrow’s workforce. But it’s not the BA qualification itself which matters – she argues – it’s the thinking skills an Arts degree helps build in students.


Simpson explains how workplaces that once relied on ‘hard’ STEM skills like maths and computer programming are now becoming more and more dependent on soft skills, such as “complex analysis; your ability to influence; your ability to connect with other people; leadership traits; creativity; problem solving; adaptability; resilience; digital literacy and more.”




With our increasingly unstable future – especially for tomorrow’s generation – soft skills such as creativity, critical thinking and adaptability are becoming more and more urgent.



How does tutoring build these skills then?


In short, tutoring is like an amateur arts degree for the common high school student. In our eyes, tutoring should compliment high school learning in a meaningful way – the same way an Arts Degree supports any career path you might take.



One-on-one coaching can’t replace the material learned in class, but a good tutor can use school subjects as a bouncing point for developing advanced cognitive ability. Tutoring helps to supplement your high school education – with exercises that focus on mental strategies and upskilling.


This is particularly pressing, given that in the same StudyTime survey we discussed earlier, 87% of students said they were nervous about their future, 89% said they thought NCEA should teach more ‘life skills’, 70% said they didn’t think that NCEA prepared them for University and 84% said they didn’t think that school did enough to prepare them for “the real world.”


At IE, we believe skill-building is an investment, and that’s why we pay our tutors more than 25 hours annually learning how to apply the Holistic Model of Learning in lessons. This model is designed to target and enhance all aspects of a student’s performance – not just their endorsements at school.



Our method helps students learn how to communicate ideas well, organise their time wisely and efficiently, use good coping mechanisms, come up with creative strategies for complex problems, persevere through tricky material, and build the self-esteem to lead and speak with confidence.



Parents of Inspiration Education students often thank us for the “amazing transformations” they witness – not only in their school life – but also in the student’s renewed interest in the world around them. 


The benefits of getting tutoring in your high school years go beyond just better grades then. It’s our view that great tutoring not only boosts your school performance – but equips you with the thinking processes to make the world around you a better place.


If we can’t rely on schools to fulfil this purpose, tutoring is the next best thing.


Ready to get started?

Get in touch today, and we’ll find you a great tutor match within two working days. 

Take the stress out of NCEA

We give students the personalised support and skills to succeed in their studies

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