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Schools are killing creativity

Imagine being in a 45-minute business meeting with colleagues. You’re the manager; you want to make sure everyone’s voice is heard, qualm anyone’s specific problems, iron out specific details to make sure everyone understands the next steps of your project, while at the same time trying to get across exactly why the meeting was called in the first place. In the typical workplace, with only 45-minutes to do all the above, one would imagine that the meeting would consist of four or five colleagues. Now apply the above scenario with 30 colleagues.

Thirty colleagues attempting to listen to you, while Jonny big-balls in the corner makes snide remarks (the office joker), while you need to pry meek Bill to actually speak his mind. This includes Nadia and Melissa who are the office suck-ups, trying to finish your sentiments and sentences before you’ve even finished speaking. That’s not to mention all the other 26 vibrant and different office personalities shoved in between. That just doesn’t work. It couldn’t. And yet, this is what we demand of our teachers in a school environment everyday.

Everyday we shove 30+ children into a class at their school, forcing them to actively listen and absorb everything the teacher says within a 45-minute to one-hour session. Moreover, if they have any concerns or clarifications needed, they have to compete with fellow students to ask questions and if time’s up then they will need to seek the answers independently – seemingly overriding the whole point of the teacher. So we then have those that question why tutoring is such a huge market; why parents across the UK and beyond are turning so quickly to supplementary education. Even as the new academic year begins, before students have even returned to their desks, we are having hundreds of calls come in from parents trying to find a way to enhance their child’s learning.

Moreover, if you wait, by the time Christmas holidays approach, it is already seemingly too late. Because teachers are spread so thinly at school, it is often difficult to gauge an individual child’s progress unless by assessments, and then it’s too late to actually influence the outcome of said test. And by then tutors are almost fully booked as well. Of course, it’s important to note that not all children are on the same academic level; some will be unable to keep up with the teacher’s pace. While this would be manageable with a smaller teaching group, with 30 pupils, it makes sense for parents to seek out a tutor to ensure that their child doesn’t fall behind drastically.

In terms of independent study outside of school time, textbooks, free forums and Wikipedia can only go so far; students who learn differently to the traditional classroom setting could employ a tutor to use different teaching methods to further the child’s understanding. We’ve seen too, that the amount of homework given to students is approaching draconian levels. Often students spend up to three hours an evening completing their homework for the school day. Parents know all-to-well the nightly struggle to sit down with their children to ensure it is completed, but sometimes to no avail. Who can blame them? Having completed an arduous day of school, their restless mentality would rather see them running around, climbing trees or playing Candy Crush. Alas, this isn’t so. Parents often then become dependent on tutors to extend the school-time mentality, bringing structure to the child’s homework support.

Perhaps the huge rise in the UK tutoring industry is an indication that the current 30-1 system isn’t working; or perhaps, it’s proving that a child’s education and learning preferences are far more nuanced than we had previously imagined. Some prefer the classic whiteboard scenario, while others need to touch, feel, read, imagine, watch, do and learn – either singularly or all at once. In a modern business environment, which arguably, a number of our school children will grow into; we encourage creativity, thinking on one’s feet, showing confidence and working in small groups. None of these things we prepare our children for in a traditional classroom setting; where the main goal is to memorise and regurgitate. Tutors bring a more distinct refinement in terms of preparing our children for this environment. They learn to hold conversations with older, more authoritarian figures; and these figures in turn, demand their full attention, creativity and input (similar to a contemporary business environment).

We have assisted more parents than ever in homeschooling their children who believe for them that the current school and classroom environment isn’t working for their student; preferring to employ tutors full time. This isn’t a decision made lightly. It’s evident current classroom decorum isn’t working for all the 30 kids that have to sit through it for seven years; causing parents to look to tutors to supplement their education. Moving forward, schools must reconsider the modern classroom, not only for it’s high number of occupants but also due to it’s stagnant content. Imagine if there was a test tomorrow is “how to hold a conversation”; there was no prep, no textbook, just the child and an adult face-to-face, talking about the world around them. How well would they do?