Learning and teaching together

Learning and teaching together

Tuition centre founder Darrell Tan hopes to change one thing about his students: the fear that motivates them.

"I had a student councillor in my class who came up to me and said, 'Please can you just give me one more mark so that I can get to the next grade?'," says the former teacher, 30, who taught English language and literature at Chung Cheng High School (Main) from 2010 to 2013.

"He broke down and said, 'My parents are going to hate me for this'," Mr Tan recalls of the 16-year-old.

"It was basically from a B4 to a B3. I said, 'No, you're going to go back and say you tried your best and they shouldn't be loving you just for your results.'"

From that encounter, and his first job at Chung Cheng High, Mr Tan went on to be a private tutor for a year. Last month, he launched Edhome, a tuition centre in Orchard Road, which he started with $80,000 of his own money.

The venture is a bit of a family affair.

His mother Tan Wai Heng, 61, and two sisters-in-law Joann Tan, 37, and Kwan Chiao Chyi, 32 - all former teachers - are resident tutors at Edhome, as is Mr Tan.

The tuition centre also has five part-time tutors and about 50 students. Monthly tuition fees range from $250 to $320.

His father Philip Tan, 61, owns a real estate firm, while his two older brothers Daniel, 36, and David, 32, are oncologists.

Bs are not the only things that Singaporean students fear.

In 2011, when Mr Tan organised an exchange programme between his then-school and some British students, he saw how local students were paralysed with anxiety when asked to write a poem.

"The UK kids started on the task. Our Asian kids were going, ''cher (a short form for teacher), can you tell me how to start?' After 15 minutes, their paper was blank," he says.

"It's not that our students are not good enough. There's a lot of fear, fear of doing something wrong."

He set up Edhome to provide a nurturing environment for students to "learn without fear" and eliminate pressure, says the bachelor.

His mother taught various subjects in primary school for more than 30 years. For the past decade, she has been a part-time school counsellor at Geylang Methodist School (Primary).

"I had a Primary 4 class 10 years ago which had 10 Nepalese students, one Korean and a few Malaysians. Besides teaching, I realised that I had a role to play to help them live in this mini society," she says.

"If students are emotionally affected, they cannot learn well. There's a need to take care of other areas."

Why did you decide to set up Edhome as a family business?

Darrell: My mum taught in primary school. My two sisters-in-law were secondary school teachers, and after teaching in a secondary school, I gave tuition in General Paper to junior college students.

I realised that there's a disconnect between the three stages (of the education system) and that we could bridge the gaps as a family.

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