I agree with Mrs Marietta Koh that putting schoolwork first does take a toll on family life ("Paper chase weakening family bonds"; last Wednesday). Is tuition the best way to improve a child's grades?
When I was in Secondary 3, I used to fail chemistry. But I started to work on the subject when I realised it would affect my O-level grade.
I asked a lot of questions in class and consulted friends who were better in the subject. In short, I made sure I fully understood every topic. After just one semester, and with no tuition, I was able to score an A.
Motivation is important. There are two forms - extrinsic and intrinsic.
The former requires an external reward to fuel it. In my case, I was motivated to study chemistry because I wanted to do better in the exams.
The latter form comes from within. For example, a person is motivated to study chemistry because he is genuinely interested in it and wants to learn more.
Both forms of motivation provide an impetus for students to work harder, pay more attention and, ultimately, gain more from tuition and school. We should focus first on cultivating the motivation to learn before making students go for tuition classes.
Also, the opportunity cost of excessive tuition needs to be considered. I had tuition just twice a week in secondary school.
This gave me time to pursue other interests such as life-saving, kayaking, scuba-diving and sport climbing. Every child should be given the opportunity to explore non-academic activities, be it sports, music or the arts. Such experiences are very beneficial as they give young people a holistic education.
Seah Tiong Kiat
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