Category Archives: Tuition blog

Quality of Tuition Service nowadays

I have decided to pour out my thoughts after one unhappy incident when I was invited to upload my portfolio onto a new startup tuition platform named yod**.co but the person in – charge has been quite persistent about me doing something which are against my principles. It is compulsory for me to either

  1. Post my students’ photos with details such as school or name and ask them to write a testimonial.
  2. Link their Facebook pages to the website.

I stick to my principles and asked for my profile to be removed.

Many tuition centres and private tutors are doing these, so what’s wrong?

1. Using students as marketing tools

Examples:

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  1. Students engage us to help them academically, not to use them as marketing tools to boost our reputation.
  2. I view it as an infringement to the students’ identity since for y0d**.co, the students must show the photo, name, school and other information.

I have even seen flyers of students in their uniforms holding their A level results slips and a cheque (why is money involved?). What really saddens me is that education is treated purely as a profit driven business. When we as tutors see our students, what is the image in our mind?

  1. A student who is in need of help academically?
  2. Money generator?

There are some tutors or tuition centres I really applaud who respect the privacy of their students. I knew some of them personally and they have students scoring As but in their flyers there’s no mention of any names or whatsoever. It is perfectly fine to upload a few group photos without citing any names, purely as evidence that there is such a tuition service going on.

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To put it simply, to find out whether a bowl of noodles is good: Buy 1 and try it out for the first time for yourself. In other words, request for a trial lesson and see it for yourself.

As a parent do you wish to see your child’s face on a flyer advertising for the tuition centre? As a parent myself, I think probably not. My child is worth more than being a cheap endorsement for a tuition centre.

2. Everyone wants a slice of the billion dollar pie.

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If you go to Carousel app, you can  see many people posting to hire them as tutors, even students who just graduate from O level, A level etc. Some even post and say they are only free until, say, March next year. It is clear that people are viewing tuition as solely a part time job for pocket money, and that they will quit when their holidays are over. What about the student?

This brings bad light to the good tutors out there who are committed and responsible to fulfil their duties for main reason of assisting the students in need.

The quality of private tuition is dropping because many people regardless experienced, skilled or not wants to be a private tutor. Hence the newspaper reports a survey that minority finds tuition useful.

Straits Times survey

Personally, tuition can be helpful if

  1. You find the right person to coach the student,
  2. The student is willing to accept tuition and cooperate fully with the tutor.

 

A level H2 Math preparation tips #1: Differentiation

Calculus (Differentiation, Integration and applications)

  • Calculus is the heaviest weightage among all the pure math “modules” in the exam. Over the years the total marks for this module is between 50 to 60. Hence I always emphasise to my students that this module is a MUST to master.
  • A level exams will not test directly on techniques of differentiation. They will ask application questions only. So far over the years they have been testing on tangents / normals and maximum / minimum problems. No rate of change questions (yet).
  • Tangents / Normals

For the past 8 years, 7 years have questions on tangents / normals asked in the form of parametric equation (since implict differentiation can be asked through Maclaurin’s series). Furthermore, the recent years’ questions has been algebraic intensive. E.g. they ask you to find equation of a tangent at a point with parameter “p” instead of say “2” to make the workings nicer. Also it is quite common for them to merge graphing techniques (sketch parametric curves) and integration (area under curve through parametric form) as 1 big question.

tangent

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  • Maximum / minimum problem

It is quite common that they will give you an object such as a box of various shapes and find the value of one of the lengths for maximum volume or surface area. Students may find the first part on formulating the equation to be harder than the differentiation itself. My suggestion is: if the equation is mentioned in the question as a “show” question, just use the answer to continue with the maximum / minimum computation which will usually have more marks. DO NOT give up the entire say 9 marks question just because you could not form the equation which is just approx 3 marks.

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  • Maclaurin’s series
    For Macluarin’s series there are two main approaches: successive differentiation and using standard series from MF 15. Over the years, binomial expansion has been tested quite frequently. Also if you see the phrase “sufficiently small” and the question involves a triangle and angle –> small angle approx (using sine or cosine rule). Usually small angle approx questions is followed by binomial expansion too.

small angle

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Another happy news for the day

I remembered last year she got a U for year 1 but managed to promote as she got other H2 passes. It was not easy as she could not repeat year 1 even if she wanted and that meant she has to do alot of catching up as the school continues with the year 2 syllabus (quicker pace).

I recalled how she scored E at the year 2 Jan test, B for March test and A for June exam. She whatsapp me telling me her cohort only 13 As and 9Bs for Prelims and I was nervous too for I hope she can get A (she is capable of it now). Then today she whatsapp me her results I was really happy. It showed that my method of coaching has proven effective for her.

She is from RI by the way (the school exam papers are of a certain standard).

Does your child need help? Sometimes it is about the correct coaching method (which school need not necessary provide) to see significant improvement.

Tutors provide 2nd opinion, just like doctors and insurance agents

In some ways I find private tutors similar to doctors, in the field of academics. I just want to share an example of how a school teacher have marked a student’s answer in an unfair manner. This is not about the matter of marks but it brings disillusion to the student’s learning.

This question was from 2015 ACJC JC 2 Common Test 1 (H2 Mathematics) on the topic of Permutation and Combination. The question I would like to highlight is Q5(ii).

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The marker awarded my tuition student 0 marks, and mentioned “cannot use dumping method”. Based on this I assumed that the school teacher thought that this method was completely wrong and hence no marks awarded. However my student’s method is actually acceptable, just that it is incomplete.

The full solution would be to consider 9 cases (my student wrote 6, missed out 3). The remaining 3 cases are

1) 3 tennis, 1 squash

2) 2 tennis, 2 squash

3) 1 tennis, 3 squash.

I would probably award 1 mark, but that’s not the issue. The student thought that her method was completely wrong and was confused as she cannot see where’s the mistake. She was prepared to “forgo” this method and force herself to accept the teacher’s method which she finds it hard to swallow.

Main reason for incorrect marking by the teacher:

The teachers want to finish marking piles of scripts asap, hence whenever they see a wrong answer they may be tempted to just give a “0” instead of thinking about where and why the mistakes are made. Many failed to realise that at JC level students have their own way of thinking and it is our job (teachers or tutors) to fine tune the methods they are comfortable so that the methods are appropriate and correct, rather than rejecting their ideas (unreasonably) and force them to do things they don’t comprehend.

Nevertheless, P&C is probably the hardest topic to mark for me. There are numerous ways to count and solve a problem, a teacher may not know all of them.

P.S: “Dumping Method”, reminds me of toilet or Yummy Dumpling.

Just some thoughts whenever I see tuition ads

You can say I am posting this because these are my “rivals”. I just have mixed feelings, probably as a former teacher, when I see these tuition adverts. I believe I am the type of part time tutor that wish for the good of the students and the education system will improve and not just for the sake of money.

I admit that I do collect fees as I need to feed my family too but no matter what I still think there should be ethics maintained in the tuition industry.

I saw this advertisement and a few things come to my mind.

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1) What are the OCBC cheques for? Why is money involved?

2) Looking at the uniforms I think it is pretty expected the students from the top JCs should be scoring As (which I cannot see from the certs).

Next

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Having current JC lecturers seem to be a very good marketing point to the interested parents. BUT….

What if you are the parent whose child is under these teacher’s care and are not doing so great. Will you feel good that these teachers are spending time earning money and coaching other students, instead of spending more time fulfilling their core duty of nurturing their own school students? I shall assume that the students are not attending their own teachers’ tuition lessons.

When the ministers or MP voice their concerns about current teachers taking tuition job, I believe they have a point. Teachers are complaining that they have too much work to do, not enough rest time, yet how come these teachers still can afford time for earning extra money? My take is that the number of hours is fixed, to allocate time for part time job means something else has been sacrificed, hopefully not at the school’s or students’ expense.

Finally: are they even real current JC lecturers? Parents must ask to view their certificates for verification. There have been cases of tutors faking to be JC lecturers.

Read this if you are a student from Millennia Institute

I was discussing with a student from MI who wanted to join my tuition class and I was having quite a headache whether to accept him. The main reason is because of MI’s weird math syllabus.

In my previous blog I commented on how it’s not a very good idea to teach vectors (practiced by PJC and NYJC) as it is one of the hardest topic for pure math. MI chose to begin with Complex Numbers, the other hardest topic for Pure Math. Not only that, it is the first time I have seen a school teaching complex numbers, inequalities followed by graphing techniques.

This is actually a bad syllabus in my opinion for a few reasons:

1) When we deal with loci, especially one involving a circle, we can deal with it using either geometry (which alot of students are weak) or we can borrow the concept of Conics (covered in graphing techniques) to help us. Without learning graphing techniques, students are basically left with the option to deal using geometry.

2) Inequalities is dealt using either number line method (algebraic) or graphical approach. Again students not familiar with graphing techniques will be at a big disadvantage.

3) Students trying to find tuition can most likely rely on 1 to 1 tuition (expensive) as tuition centres mostly follow JC 2 year syllabus instead of 3, also most schools usually start with sequences & series or graphing techniques. Complex  numbers is usually taught in year 2.

I told the student to join my class and try it out. He will learn some topics in advance and when MI teaches those topics, it will be a revision.