Getting parents to teach their own children won't solve the tuition problem

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I refer to Vivian Lim's letter to the Today paper, "Parental involvement can stem tuition culture."
While Member of Parliament (Mountbatten GRC) Lim Biow Chuan was concerned that tuition has become a crutch for students to the point that they “have lost the skill of self-directed learning” (“Tuition culture has to go, say MPs”; March 7), one contributing factor to this situation could be that many parents today have lost the skill of “self-directed teaching”.

Parents of the current cohort grew up in a time when the world saw productivity grow through the division of labour, and are enjoying the efficiency of this model. Teaching is now seen as provided primarily by institutions, with parents taking a backseat. Even parents who recognise the value of being more hands-on in teaching end up “outsourcing” because it requires less time, effort and discipline on their part.

Promoting deeper parental involvement and genuine interest in their children can contribute to a shift away from a tuition culture, as well as education in the broader sense. This could be done through outreach programmes by relevant institutions and self-help groups.

I just have a few simple questions.

1) Who's going to pay the bills while the parents teach their own children? In most lower to middle income families, both parents need to work full-time. You can't just expect one of them to quit his/her job to teach their children. It's simply not an option unless you don't intend to put your child through a university education.

2) What's wrong with a tuition culture? So many assumptions have been made recently about the tuition culture. But will parents be any better? Will they put less pressure on their children? Will they make better teachers?

3) Self-directed teaching isn't teaching and non self-directed learning isn't learning. Learning is by definition self-directed and teaching is by definition externally imposed. How are you going to ensure the child is doing his self-directed learning if he isn't being monitored? If you're monitoring him, is that learning still self-directed? Terms like these are a load of rubbish. Stop using them.


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