A tutor is a professional instructor who tutors or teaches a student. The term ‘tutor’ is largely used in the context of private or personal teaching, either to a single student or a group of students, that are in need of supplementary tutoring outside the classroom.
Tutor profiles in different countries
The title is used to denote different job profiles in different countries. For instance, in the US, the term tutor is usually associated with a professional who instructs or teaches within a school setting. But often, a tutor is a professional instructor in a given subject or field and by and large, the term is used at a higher educational level – e.g. high school and college levels.
In the UK, a class of students or a ‘form’ is the responsibility of the ‘form tutor’ who is headed by a guidance teacher or year head and has full-time responsibility in his or her role as a specialist subject teacher. The form tutor is the person who interacts with parents about their child’s progress, shortcomings and any problems encountered at school and provides the foundation for a well-rounded academic experience.
In Asia, a tutor usually refers to a professional instructor who provides private coaching or teaching. Several countries in south-east Asia maintain different profiles for the job of a tutor; in Cambodia, tutoring is provided by regular teachers, small and large companies provide tutoring in Hong Kong and in South Korea private entrepreneurs and companies use technology to provide tutoring on a large scale.
Fallouts of private tutoring
A study undertaken by the Comparative Education Research Centre at the University of Hong Kong made some very strong observations, chief among them being the fact that private tutoring has created and exacerbated social inequalities and nurtured an unregulated industry which burgeoned at the cost of much needed household income. Besides, it has caused inefficiencies in school education systems and has undermined government and official statements about free-education for all. In short, private tutoring has threatened social cohesion.
This sort of private tutoring is called ‘shadow education’ and the industry is growing rapidly globally. There are several factors attributed to this such as:
• Stratification of education systems
• Perceptions of shortcoming in regular academic streams
• Cultural factors
• Growing incomes
• Diminishing family sizes
This has spurred the education sector to attain the status of a profitable industry segment with a vast advertising and marketing portfolio, much like saleable commodities in the market.
Benefits of tutoring
Besides the institution that gains manifold from having tutors on its roles thereby expanding the scope of knowledge and information, there are certain benefits that the tutors also gain as well as the students.
The benefits enjoyed by a tutor through glimpses into the teaching segment and interacting with qualified and experienced teaching professionals are:
• Increases knowledge of specific subjects
• Widens scope of subject-related information
• Improves the ability to manage study strategies
• Enhances motivation to improve knowledge in order to be competitive
• Encourages higher levels of thinking
For the students the benefits are numerous; however, the important ones are:
• Provides greater interaction between teacher and learner and creates a role model for youngsters
• Greatly improves academic performance
• Improves personal growth and self-esteem
• Motivates self-directed and self-paced learning
• Provides greater opportunities for intensive study practice of subjects