I saw a post on a wall advertising the services of a home tutor. What caught my attention was that this advertiser promised to handle all subjects for all the classes in primary and secondary schools perfectly. It is possible that he has an outfit that recruits home tutors in different subjects; but it is also possible that this person is actually the one teaching those subjects for all the classes.
It is rare these days for a tutor to handle students in different subjects in senior secondary schools, but we can still find people like that among those handling primary and junior secondary school students. It is a common thing to see primary school teachers doing home lessons for children in all the subjects. If you ask them how they manage, they will tell you that they have been teaching them before so it’s no big deal. But what most of them actually do is read-up textbooks and transfer whatever they read to the children. Should any challenging topic come up, they either avoid it or pass on wrong knowledge.
There are some subjects home tutors shouldn’t be allowed to handle unless they are deeply rooted in them. Subjects such as English, Nigerian languages, Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Further Mathematics, Biology, and some others are not what someone can just pick up a textbook, read up and then teach a child; even when it is for someone in primary school. Most problems that need to be resolved in these subjects need the experience of experts, who do not only know how to solve those problems, but also know the right teaching methods for impacting knowledge to their various students.
Speaking of right teaching methods calls to mind the prevalent cases of one lesson tutor teaching a subject to students in different classes. This, as far as I’m concerned, is the same thing as one person teaching different subjects because they will produce the same effect. The truth here is that a teacher is assigned to manage a particular class, or group of classes in school, and is therefore only experienced in handling students within the class range. For instance, a teacher that is managing junior secondary in English may not be assigned to any class in senior secondary. Those in nursery classes do not handle primary schools simultaneously. If a teacher in primary school accepts to be the home tutor for a family with five children scattered between nursery and secondary classes, she is going to be a legend if she’s able to do her job well. This is because, apart from differences in contents, these children all need different teaching methods and techniques as a result of their different classes.
It is true that the economic situation of the country caused lesson teachers to choose whatever they see without making the right choices on who and what to teach, but they should understand that being the jack of all trade might have negative effects on them and on their students.
Examples of these negative effects are:
- Lack of Expertise: Since these teachers jump from one class to another or from subject to the other, they will find it difficult to locate their niche. Some of those that have decided to settle noticed they were good in handling, say nursery school pupils or Phonics for primary pupils, and have, therefore, focused all their attentions there. This sort of people are paid heavily for their services, despite handling just a subject for a particular class.
- Confusing their Students: When a secondary school teacher accepts to tutor a primary three pupil, that child may end up confused because the lesson teacher is either saying something “different” from what her class teacher taught her, or he is saying something that the child doesn’t understand. This is sometimes caused by the use of different teaching methods or lack of in-depth knowledge of the subject matter.
- Passing Inappropriate Knowledge: Learning as a continuous process also means that every class has a set of knowledge mapped out for its students. Every concept is broken down in such a way that its features are taught progressively. The only way a tutor will know the features of the concept to be taught at a particular time is to gain access to the curriculum. When this teacher accesses the curriculum, he will then need to prepare the lesson plan and activities. So you can imagine what it will be like to prepare a lesson plan for pupils in different classes and for different subjects. This might be obtainable but it will be too cumbersome for the tutor. Should he fail or decide not obtain the curriculum for each class, he will only end up teaching what is either too low or too high for his student.
- Ineffectiveness: Some parents complain that their children’s lesson teachers are not doing well because their children’s academic performances do not reflect the huge amount of money spent on private lessons. When I hear things like this I only advise the parents to either be patient with their children, or to verify the qualifications of their children’s tutors. In most cases, the problem is that the lesson tutors were not the right people to handle the job. For instance, hiring someone that is handling secondary school classes to tutor a primary two child that is dyslexic may prove ineffective because the teacher, at that time, only specialises in teaching students that can duly put down their thoughts in writing.
Things are hard in the country true and true, but that is not an excuse for private lesson teachers to pick up students without due considerations on what they, the tutors, have to offer. It’s high time lesson teachers started carving their niche too; that is the best way to develop themselves and help their clients.