By Tania du Toit
Almost every school website prominently promotes the value of extra classes (all subjects) after school or over weekends. A few decades ago one would have asked but what goes on during school hours? Support classes were not so common as to almost be the norm. In residential areas extra-class billboards appear on as many home-business walls as ordinary business billboards. Internet searches for extra classes or tutor assistance support the conclusion that there is a demand for and offer of extra classes.
The economic pressure and the fact that school costs take a massive bite out of household budgets raise the question as to how necessary and affordable extra classes are? The reason for this is another long story. Quality support classes and tutor assistance is expensive for the man in the street.
As a registered tutor I come across the following role players (no specific order):
- Oversized classes (more than 25 learners per teacher; little individual attention; teachers do not check/mark learners’ homework themselves and properly)
- Language of instruction is not the mother tongue (cannot understand, too embarrassed to ask)
- Poor understanding of instructions (usually mother-tongue-related)
- Attention and concentration blockage
- Reading and comprehension handicap (prefers visual stimulation)
- Inability with regard to self-expression and formulation of sentences, clumsy communication
- Unhandy when having to work or think for him/herself, used to being spoon-fed, learning by rote
- Absent and/or incompetent parent assistance (parents know nothing of subject or lacks adequate school background/work long hours)
- Unfavourable child-parent relationship
- Self-consciousness issues and self-image problems (does not want to ask for help in class)
- Sibling comparison, parent and performance pressure
- Qualifying marks for post-school studying
- Negative attitude towards a subject
As a tutor I normally first assess the possible reasons for underperformance and tutor assistance. I base my support offer on this and normally I quickly have involved, dedicated learners once the dull spots have been identified and tackled. One-on-one assistance gives the fastest and best results, but it is expensive.
Average tutor assistance packages normally comprise one weekly lesson (online or face to face), that runs up to four lessons a month … for one subject. There are learners who sometimes need support classes for more than two subjects. For some it is about performance, for others attaining a pass mark. When you do the arithmetic, tutor assistance sometimes costs more than school fees per month. This includes fuel and time spent on getting learners to support classes.
One can understand that at schools where there are regular strikes and personnel and community problems they want to and must support learners with after-hours assistance if they want to complete a curriculum in time. And yet, even at schools where not one of these visible negative role players is present, there still is a significant component of learners who, for “survival”, will hire or obtain tutor assistance. And possibly there is a percentage of learners who will quite easily survive on their own and who are taking support classes for reasons other than a real study handicap (vogue, group pressure, absent parents, self-image problems, loneliness.
Learners who need help and approach me, certainly need help; mostly it is about passing or failing and “instruction coaching”, light on dark spots … one wonders how many of these problems could have occurred and been handled at school and parent level. Yes, it creates work and that is fine, if necessary. Affluent parents can afford it, but what about those with leaner purses and children who really need it? Visit the links below and see for yourself what it costs.
Karin Coetzee Wiskundesentrum. “Waarom addisionele wiskundeklasse?”: http://www.karincoetzeewisk.co.za/
Netwerk24. “Ekstra klasse resep vir skool se sukses”: https://www.netwerk24.com/ZA/Tygerburger/Nuus/ekstra-klasse-resep-vir-skool-se-sukses-20180116-2
SkillUp Tutors. “Find and hire the Perfect Tutor”: https://www.skilluptutors.com/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=%7Bskillup_search_brand%7D&utm_content=%7Bskillup_brand%7D&utm_term=skill%20up&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI5pjWoJen3QIVrrvtCh1BoQ5AEAAYASAAEgKT4_D_BwE
Tania du Toit. Registered SkillUp tutor (Afrikaans and other subjects), also an Afrikaans e-tutor at tertiary level.
Youth Village. SA’s Youth Portal. “10 Institutions offering extra Lessons for High School Students”: https://www.youthvillage.co.za/2014/09/10-institutions-offering-extra-lessons-high-school-students/