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Preying on a Parent’s Expectations

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Every parent wants his child to do well in school. So it’s disappointing and frustrating when a child starts or falls below grade level. Unfortunately most children have a very hard time catching up to their peers without a hugely concentrated effort. Fortunately, most parents are able to help their children through extra work at home or by paying for additional tutoring and instruction.

Tutorials and Learning Centers

As it turns out, savvy business owners follow the funds, and many tutorial and learning centers have opened for concerned parents and their children. These programs all promise the same thing – improvement in your child’s abilities using their method of instruction. This is the message all parents want to hear, and for a struggling child some extra help may spell relief in the classroom.

Unfortunately some of the learning center programs don’t offer much in the way of instruction or relief.

The Business of Education

Education is a perfect thing to sell. It’s hard to define progress and success, and customers usually arrive already sold on what you’re offering. Of course, once the company has a signed contract, it has to work to actually create a deliverable, and that’s where things get a bit sticky.

Any educator can tell you that children don’t work the way you expect them, too. A concept that seems simple to you can be tremendous to a child – and that’s if the child is willing to learn. Put an unwilling child together with an inexperienced teacher and not much is going to change other than bills changing hands.

Sadly some tutorial centers aren’t especially interested in breaking through to the child and building a relationship with a reluctant learner. They are more interested in making money and streamlining the process. To this end, there are many parents the world over who are paying a lot of money for their children to do worksheets.

The Worksheet Way

For some poor children the tutorial process works like this: They take a test to see just where they fall on the skills spectrum. Then they start doing worksheets at that level. When they score well enough on the first worksheet they move on to the second and then the third.

The idea here is that the instructor can use the worksheet as a way to show a student how to work the problems or learn a concept. Then the student tries again after instruction and move on to the next level where the process repeats.

The system only works, however, if the teacher is willing to use the worksheets as a teaching tool. Actually teaching each student in a tutoring group how to do each step is much more cumbersome than most low-paid or business-minded “tutors” anticipate. It’s not long before they realize it is much simpler to have the kids answer the worksheet questions, grade them, return them and repeat.

Less work for instructors. Busy kids in tutoring sessions. But sadly little learning.

It’s an unfortunately – expensive – cycle. And hopefully it’s one you’ll be able to avoid.

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