Forcing Education

I quit.


But I believe that quitting was the right choice. If I didn’t I would be left in a position where I had to force something upon a mere 10-year old boy who just wants to be creative and explore the things that he likes. I would hold this sole responsibility in making him love learning. Which wasn’t a problem… Until his parents let go of his education, piling up expectations upon expectations for the tutor (that is me) to improve this child’s grades.

The poor boy loved Mathematics and Malay.

He despised English and Science.

I quit.


But I quit after trying out multiple ways to engage his mind. It is so easy for others to say “Start with what he does not like and then proceed doing with what he likes”. But what can I do when this child doesn’t even want to think about the existence of things he hates?

Games. Puzzles. Colour pencils. Word Searches.

He loved Word Searches. I badly wanted to make English enjoyable. Thus I made countless of word searches for him. But the very mere intention to start doing an English word search puts him off. I bargained. We had 2 hours of lessons, twice a week. 15 minutes each for English and Science, 45 minutes each for Malay and Mathematics. Seems fair?

Initially he agreed. The next lesson, he backed out.

Promise? Yes, he said that lesson.

Like all promises, they were broken.

He dragged homework time – 15 minutes became an hour. He kept erasing the correct answers, rewriting them and wasting correction fluid. He knew he had to start with English/Science. I tried to coax him that both subjects were fun. Videos after videos, he never even looked at the screen of my laptop. The pictures I printed out were left abandoned on the dining table. I had to push back my tasks at hand. He was obnoxiously rude to his housekeeper (this family is well-off). During our lesson, his mind wandered and he rushed into his maid’s room – screaming for a cup of Milo (a brand of chocolate drink). Mind you, the woman was asleep.

English is a subject where the teacher cannot teach you everything. Nobody is going to tell you that excited can be ecstatic. Exhilarated. Or any other word that can replace those positive words. Sad is very general. You need depressed, upset, gloomy… So on and so forth.

This boy hated reading. So much so, he has never ever read a story book in his life.

Everything was all iPad, cellphones…

I didn’t mind that. We all know that there are book apps on these gadgets. But nobody told him that. Nobody taught him that. Every new word I whipped out – athlete, clang, jingle etc – he exclaimed, “Teacher never taught me that!” Being a 10 year old, he should know these words. He loved soccer. Shouldn’t he know what an athlete means?

Then, there comes the parents. I have never met his dad before. But I have met his mom – twice. She is a nice lady. Both parents were working to support the family of four (five, including the housekeeper). I wouldn’t put all the blame on the poor mother, but I felt that if this is what the child is growing up to be – spoilt, uninterested in the greatest thing called education, oblivious… What’s the purpose of getting so much money from work when the future lies in the offspring?

I’m not asking you to give up your career, but what are you doing with that child, leaving all those gadgets with him 24/7?

Nobody is going to teach a child who like this. I bet that the next tutor who comes to teach this boy would either quit like I did, or stay on, doing nothing during lessons. He/she would probably be earning free money.

To get the child to actually study, I had to threaten the poor boy. I said “I’ll call your mom if you don’t start doing your work”. Trust me. He cried during our second lesson. I felt no ounce of guilt, but if that is what I had to do every single time to get him to study… He would probably lose the fear and respect towards his mother. Worse still, I would actually be forcing education upon him.

I believe that it is not only who should inspire him to study. I felt all alone during this assignment.

“Oh okay, I hope you can do the best for my son.”

Of course I will. Why would I be tampering with a child’s future if my intention is not to teach him, nurture him about the beauty of education? But why did you not say something about doing your part to me? Why is there no coordination between what goes on at home (without the home tutor), what goes on at school and what goes on during my lesson time?

Bottom line is: It’s not that I hate teaching children. I feel that there is a different story to each tuition assignment – be it public tuition or home tuition. Unfortunately, tuition is very popular in Singapore; it is pretty much the norm. I am blessed to have not treated tuition seriously – went to a public tuition which is cheap, and I kept skipping lessons to go to the library to read. I felt that the education I received is too forced. I had to follow the slower pace of something I have already learned at formal school. I wanted to learn more – Aurora Borealis, Nuclear Physics, Cold War…

If I were to take up a tuition assignment, let it be known that I will only take up tuition assignments directly from the student itself, and not from the parent. It’s a totally different story – a student who genuinely wants to learn and a parent who puts his/her child through tuition.

I don’t want to enforce education – threaten him, scold him (it can be inevitable, but I don’t want to do it all the time) or worse, curse him…

I’ve had enough of this shit. I’d rather work in an office or be a freelancer/volunteer.

I sound very negative in this post. Unfortunately, this is how I feel about this assignment (and seemingly as a whole, towards tuition).

Being put through MENDAKI tuition from Secondary 2 to 4 made me despise its’ existence. It wasn’t the tutor’s fault. It wasn’t my tuitionmates’ fault. I just hated how I had to go slow to learn things I already knew at my finger tips. I had fun teaching my friends school stuff, but I never ever wanted tuition. If I did… probably went to my school teachers because I genuinely wanted to learn from them instead.


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